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Warning spoilers ahead
If I were to describe this series simply to someone with limited knowledge of Japanese manga (comics) and anime (Japanese animation) I would say that it is like Pokémon except these Pokémon would like nothing better to either brutally assault you, eat you or screw up your mental or genetic composition.
The story begins with three twelve year old girls in junior high in your typical Japanese school. For an unknown reason the principal always picks three girls entering puberty to defend the school against alien monsters who constantly want to attack the school again for an unknown reason. This seems to be rather unorthodox as should this be any other anime the government would usually send out giant robots or the army but this doesn't happen. From beginning to end there is something really unnerving going on. The reason for using these girls as organic weapons is very intentional.
In the beginning all the girls have to do is collect and capture primarily herbivore aliens that break into the school and protect civilians. However as the story carries through the teachers in charge of the project start to realise they are out of their depth and things get out of control.
The three girls are as follows:
Kasumi class A loves everything including people, aliens and dancing the head mistress refers to her as the "favourite".
Kumi class B has been living with only a mum and is almost like the second provider for her family.
Yuri class C is somewhat of a cry-baby. She is not particularly good at anything and fears aliens more than anything else on the planet. The only reason she is an alien fighter is because she was voted for the position by her class mates as nobody else wanted to do it.
The girls become fast friends and some unexplained telekinetic force which the borgs have also allows the girls to experience each other's emotions and fears. Kumi however seems to develop more and more into a borg however and starts to develop personal feelings for Yuri in being her constant protector. Kasumi becomes envious, paranoid and excessively lonely.
The girls all start off with a protective symbiotic alien who defends them on the battlefield much like the starter Pokémon each looks slightly different and have different personalities which are influenced by the girl's emotions and their psyche. These aliens all look very much like bicycle helmets with eyes, mouths, wings, chameleon like sticky tongues and a concealed set of razor sharp and extendable drills. These aliens are collectively known as borg. They are one of the three main symbiotes that humans can communicate with on a sentient and intelligent level.
Strangely enough though one of the girls Kasumi the A star student who comes from a rich family and who is even good at sports and design and technology accepts the opportunity openly and really enjoys her work, she would like nothing better to run around spaceships all day capturing aliens as if they were something really cute like butterfly's or puppies. It is later revealed that she has severe abandonment issues as her older brother who she was really close to moved away to study and never came back. She abandons her borg leaving him distressed and is integrated into a different troop of sentient aliens called yellow knives which look like skyscraper sized reptilian platypus with giant frogs with arms, legs and super sharp teeth for wings decide to eat her. Not in the intent of eating her but in order to understand human beings better. Unfortunately yellow knives are one of the borgs biggest enemies and Kasumi is returned to the school a totally different person mutated into a whole new species.
Yuri is then targeted by other symbiotes, but seeing as the other girls now have a feel for what being an alien is decide to protect her from ever becoming part alien.
Shortly after the B level candidate who also volunteered to be an alien fighter to avoid being class president is brutally mutilated and partially eaten alive by another unknown species.
Unfortunately the manga doesn't really end as such; there are lots of things left unexplained and very much a mystery. It is hinted at that initially it was possibly humans that first dragged these poor aliens from other areas of space to be used as weapons, to be dissected for medical purposes or simply to eat.
We seem to be introduced in the middle of the story where aliens have already started to colonise the earth forming spaceship forests with giant man eating golems, flying creatures and some really deformed looking beings and animals that look like they are trying to be human. It is a really terrifying looking world.
Why they use young girls as weapons is a little bit of a mystery. It just seems to be that girls of that age are at their most likely to fuse with aliens which me think of the story on a whole different level. Though you do have to think about things a good bit in this manga to maybe come to your own conclusion. You could quite easily debate and question the happenings in this manga for hours and still not really know what is going on. It is not unlike the Neon Genesis Evangelion series in this way.
After reading the series through a couple of times it becomes more and more apparent that aliens are perhaps running the show here and mankind have absolutely no idea what is going on around them and that this has become the norm. It's scary to think that humans could ever be toppled from the top of the food and evolutionary chain by alien crossbreeds and syndicates that don't value money or wealth but have an insatiable appetite for absorbing and fusing with the entire human population.
Shockingly enough borgs and the yellow knives are the nice aliens, the aliens that are yet to come have no problem with dicing up humans and other aliens who won't fuse or follow their dictatorship.
I have to say this is one of the goriest Science fiction manga I have ever read; there is lots of blood and mutilation in both the alien and human side of things this really isn't one for under 15s. It also contains elements of lesbianism and explores the human psyche. This isn't happy flappy you're my best friend forever stuff. Instead of I catch you your mine, it's more like I've caught you now I will either rip you apart or take over your self conscious. Although the artwork especially in the eyes and faces of this manga look very similar to that of Pokémon do not be confused it is a totally different genre and story.
Funnily enough though in the anime the voice actress that plays the role of the girls manager and teacher also plays the original Ash Ketchum from the Pokémon anime series but that is the main similarity that these series share.
I personally believe that you cannot call yourself a true manga or anime fan unless you have read Dororo, Buddha or black jack which I think are the grounding stones for modern day manga and even western fantasy and science fiction stories. Osamu Tezuka the artist and author of these manga cannot realistically be compared to any other artist of his time his stories where so ahead of their time that they even age better than manga that were produced in the 90s early 00s.
In terms of his manga series Dororo I have a real personal attachment as it was only after I had completed the series that I realised he was deceased and died on the year I was born. At first I just couldn't believe that such old manga could seem so modern and up to date for its age, for the most part I could easily believe that his manga could have been written and released yesterday.
This series is based centuries ago when samurai and demons ruled the earth and when hatred, fear and greed would take physical forms and walk the earth in search of weak souls.
Dororo is the first of Tezuka's manga that I read all the way through, it is three smaller volumes long and probably the shortest of his works the longest probably being the astro boy series or Buddha which is easily eight times the length of Dororo so it will always be special to me.
The word Dororo actually means thief in Japanese kiddy talk like some children over here would have trouble pronouncing words such as "three" saying "fwee" in Japanese children have trouble pronouncing their "bs". The real word for thief is spelt Dorobo, but since one of the protagonists of the story is a little 9/10 year old who claims to be the king of thieves this seems to be a fitting title for the series.
Our second protagonist is a 14 year old boy called Hyakkimaru which roughly translates as "hundred demons boy". His father was an emperor who wished to own the settlement next to his own, he knew he did not have enough strength in his army to go to war so he prayed to the 48 demons of hell to have the power in exchange for his unborn baby boy who was to be born the next day. The baby Hyakkimaru was still born but he was missing 48 body parts including arms legs, hair, eyes, a nose, ears, a voice box, lips, mouth and many internal organs and bones. His mother could not bear to have baby killed as was the common practise at the time to destroy anything associated with a demon so she hid him in a basket and sent him down the river in the hope someone could save his life.
Luckily for him a doctor (who greatly resembled a head doctor from Blackjack) saved him and built him prosthetic limbs and organs where possible to make him look human (like Blackjacks little girl apprentice whom he reconstructed from an unborn twin attached to a woman's back). Unfortunately as Hyakkimaru grew older the demons came back looking for the rest of him, his adopted father the doctor had to make him leave the area but showing more kindness than his parents did built swords and explosives into his prosthetics so that he could defend himself in the outside world.
It is because of the two boy's pariah status that they soon become fast friends and they discover the more demons that they destroy the more body parts Hyakkimaru regrows, thus the slogan for this manga is "nobody is born whole".
Osamu Tezuka's characters are immediately likeable in that every single one of them has suffered something really horrible in their pasts which is easy to identify with, little Dororo had to watch his parents die and Hyakkimaru has to live with the fact that he will never be the same as anybody else and the fact no matter where he goes he will be thought of as a demon. Every single person in the world no matter where they have come from must have felt some form of alienation or abandonment as a child perhaps or later in life by the betrayal of a friend or a loved one. It is with this hard hitting heart felt story telling that Osamu Tezuka really pulls at your heart strings and makes you appreciate the smaller things in life. Like real life however the more human Hyakkimaru becomes the more vulnerable he becomes.
I guess the only real writer I could compare his work to is perhaps Roald Dahl, when you read it as a child you see the fun colourful characters and remember the story in a fun and happy way, but if you reread the stories such as the witches or Matilda you really see the darker side of things where children are being abused and there is some form of real danger or horror theme behind what you remember there being. I think this manga is a little like that if you just flick through the images and drawn cells you don't really get the dark or emotional meaning behind it, but if you read the text with the drawn images it is only then that you see the dark and emotional side of it.
As stated before there is quite a lot of crossing over with the manga blackjack with cameos and minor appearances of people and demons. In this volume a strange old blind monk with a lute appears singing to himself "The wind blows in the East, and it rains in the West, if the fickle wind delivers my scent..." This strange fellow must either be 500 years old or a ghost as Blackjack must be based around 1960-70, Which makes me think of Osamu Tezuka's manga on a greater level of why he included this strange little man numerous times in different manga with no significant relevance to the story. I mean I personally wouldn't have missed him should he not have been there but because he is in a few different manga it does make me think that Osamu Tezuka has put him there intentionally for a reason and we will never know why because he is no longer with us.
It is just little things like this that linger in my mind when reading his work that makes me want to keep reading his other work no matter how lengthy they are or what time they are based in, for instance at no other point would I be happy to read a manga or watch an anime based in feudal times with samurai and ninja and all that sort of thing I find them dull and boring but Osamu Tezuka can even make this interesting to me!
Until I had read this manga I had no idea how different Japanese mythology and monsters were to the western ones, it made me want to go out and research the monsters further to find out more about them, of course you do have some demons that are helpful and look a bit like the ones which Hayao Miyazaki represents in Spirited Away but there are many other more evil demons that I could have never comprehended existing such as demon face tumours which attach themselves to your knees and start mouthing off against you and eventually try to take over your body or demons formed from the souls of hundreds of murdered children, it was a real eye opener to Japanese ghost stories.
I would highly recommend you reading this manga but don't be confused by the simplistic drawing style this manga has some very series themes of mortality and death running through out it and will have some people in tears by the end of it. This is not like a Disney story there is generally not a good guy and just because someone is innocent does not mean they will have a fair trial and or live.
In the last four years or so or since I started university I have been very conscious over where my money went and the general value of a pound, possibly even more so since jobs are dwindling and the price for everything seems to have gone up two fold if not more since I was a child.
So here are my hints on how I have tried to save and earn extra money etc.
So first off it really doesn't hurt to purchase brand name tinned foods such as beans or tinned tomatoes and you can save 50% on food by scrutinising all the food brands and funnily enough I have noticed with Tesco in particular that nicest of cheeses, cereal and cooked meat aren't always the most expensive either, I am always scouring the shelves for the best deals and the best price per g or ml.
Secondly if you are in a 9-5 job, school, education or any situation which requires you to have a meal, bring a packed lunch instead of buying from the shops ready-made sandwiches, you can spend between £3-£10 for a bought lunch when you can make your own for the equivalent of maybe £1. It doesn't have to be boring either you can get yourself a flask and make soup for the week or bring your leftovers from the dinner the night before.
If you have a microwave in work that makes life even easier as you can just bring your food in a Chinese takeaway box and heat it up and eat it there and then, we have stockpiled these as well as ice cream tubs, we get these tupawear boxes for free with our food so we may as well use them instead of contributing them to the landfill!
Thirdly grow your own vegetables and herbs! Admittedly we have a rather large garden but there are some vegetables that can be grown quite literally anywhere providing you water them plenty and give them some nice soil to grow in. The vegetables I am thinking about are the likes of lettuce which you can grow either indoors or outside on your windowsill, courgettes which you can grow indoors or outdoors in pots providing you can find them a little sun or if you have a paved concrete yard with a wall that gets a lot of sun you can grow beans and peas from a grow bag or potatoes from Ikea tub bags, if you are willing to experiment your possibilities are pretty endless. Usually if you start from scratch seeds start at around 59p per bag and last two years on average so it's definitely worth ago, we had around 100 courgettes this year from one bag of seeds, we are still eating through the beans too!
Fourthly you can earn maybe an extra £100 a year or more through survey sites currently I am on onepoll. My voice, rewarded opinions, toluna and dooyoo here and when I can finally cash them all I will have at least £100 worth of vouchers and or cash. They aren't worth giving up your day job for or anything but they do help out with Christmas time or if you are having trouble setting money aside for a nice holiday and are a student like myself.
Fifthly if you can make things that other people like or you are artistic sell your stuff! I know for a fact from artists that attend video game and anime conventions you can take in up to £100 a day if you can sit in a room full of sweaty teenagers for 6-8 hours. These are also good places to sell your rare foreign DVDs and comic books if you don't think that you are getting what you want for them on amazon or eBay. Conventions are much better than craft fairs to in that you usually just have to pay an entry fee and not the table plus you get to enter the same competitions as everyone else and get access to kettles and plugs that the staff organisers also use. There are also hundreds if not thousands of people who attend these things instead of maybe 50 at craft fairs so it just seems to be a better deal overall.
Another thing which I do, though it's easier for my family since we are all over 20 is that we never buy DVDs, video games or anything electronic brand new. Thankfully I have also got my boyfriend to think like this too now as video games usually drop in price by around 50% after being released for a few months and let's face it if you get it brand new, you will not get that money back and it doesn't hurt anybody to buy in games that are second hand.
It's just a general rule in life that I know have that I never purchase anything for full price, it's always best to check the price for something online and in different shops before making your decision and handing over your well-earned cash.
In terms of mobile phone usage if you are spending more than £8.50 on pay as you go a month and you have no interest in using the internet on your phone and just want a basic package with unlimited calls and texts switch over to a contract it's much better value.
I also think it's a good idea to have either a piggy bank or jar where you keep your change aside when your purse or pockets get too heavy, if you subconsciously put £2 away every week you will soon have a nice little nest egg built up.
Something I have been doing recently since I am out and about more is getting the park in ride; I would definitely suggest using it if you have access to it, especially if you are heading into the city centre regularly. For me it is £1.70 single or £2.20 for a return and surely you could be spending that much on parking alone in the city centre never mind petrol. I also find I get into the university so much quicker too.
This one is a little random but if you hang around your local university or students union at certain times of the year there will be masters and PHD students wanting you do complete surveys and volunteer to help them with experiments. I earned £10 worth of vouchers and £5 through these and it didn't take me very much time at all.
If you smoke or drink a lot, give them up! You will be surprised at how much money you can save and how much better you will feel. The same can go for your gym membership you don't need expensive equipment to lose weight, just walk more, take buses instead of getting the car everywhere, I know some people who spend money on the gym and maybe only go twice a year! What a waste of money!
So those are my little money saving options, comments and reads are appreciated.
The game sequence
The game itself is the third of the series the first originating on the Gamecube, although not available in the UK I obtained the US version and played it with a freeloader disc on my UK GameCube. The second was released on the DS and although it was fairly similar there were some fun updates, the most current game is available on the Wii, though I am not overly impressed with it.
You are moving away from home for the first time to a society of animals who gossip; partake in fishing, bug collecting, fashion and local festivities such as Christmas and Halloween.
The idea is to obtain as many animal neighbours as possible through creating a clean, green environment which is pleasant to live in while paying off your house and helping out the local museum through collecting and donating fossils, fish and bug species to make it more prosperous and interesting to visit.
What your character looks like and what gender you are depends on what answers you give during your bus drive over as does your name and you don't find out what you look like until you arrive and name your little town.
When you first arrive you have the choice of four very small dreary looking houses which you must pay off to Tom Nook, a racoon who owns the local shop. Every time you pay off your debt your house increases in size and so does Tom Nook's shop opening up the amount of furniture, clothing, carpet and wallpaper you can buy to accessorise your house.
You initially start off with maybe three or four animal neighbours whose houses and positions seem much nicer than yours to begin with as they have been living there much longer than you; I began with a green frog called Frogbert, a grey wolf called Whitney and a Brown Gorilla called Caesar. Each of these animals has their own clothing, decorating and personality styles. They all appreciate getting letters and gifts though and always send you back a message and a gift if you send one to them.
In order to pay off your debt and earn money you first must do delivery tasks for Tom Nook and after he runs out of things for you to do you must then earn money by collecting items and selling them back to him. This may seem easy enough but when you start you start off with nothing and can only collect frit and seashells which rack up to only around 60-100bells (the currency of the area) each, which isn't much considering you have to pay him back something like 120,000bells at least for each house upgrade. In order to accumulate fishing rods, spades or nets you must purchase them of Tom Nook too.
The spade allows you to plant fruit to grow more trees to improve the environment or grow more fruit to sell as well as dig up fossils to either donate to the museum or sell and the other items definitely help you collect things to sell also, though not everything is available to buy immediately so patients or monkeying around with the games clock is required.
In order to control the game you are to use both the Wii mote and nun chuck connected together. Using the remote you control your character and the nun chuck controls specific actions such as accessing your menu to see what bugs or fish you have so far caught or what you have collected in your pockets. It also controls your usage of your net to catch bugs, your fishing rod to catch fish, your spade to plant trees and so on.
The game runs in real time so if you plan to go butterfly or cricket catching or wanting to sell items back to Tom Nook then its best you do it before 5pm, this also goes for visiting your neighbours sending letters or catching fish as its harder to see them at night.
The visuals are very colourful and cartoony; the graphics are smooth, simple and glitch free. The characters are very interactive, they show a wide range of facial expressions and emotions such as happy, stressed, sad, despair, shock and I am pretty sure many other emotions I have yet to explore. There is also a great variety in the number of characters who exist in this game, there are maybe 25 different species of animal to begin with some of which are brand new who I haven't seen in any of the previous games.
The variety of furniture sets and items for internal decorating in your house are also very numerous and creatively constructed, you can purchase anything from a flamingo lawn ornament to an old fashioned TV or arcade machine.
In terms of the soundtrack it is very relaxed and changes by the hour in time with different periods of the day. The insects make specific noises to help you track them down which seem very realistic. The animals all have a different tone of voice depending on what gender or species they are though they don't speak any known human language, when they speak they sound something like the unseen adults in Charlie Brown so text is supplied when they are communicating.
The main addition to the game is that you can now jump on the bus to go to a shopping arcade where you can purchase new fashions, furniture, go to the hair salon, get your fortune taken, have your shoes shined or go to a rather terrible stand-up comedian.
Since this is the main change of the game however I am a little disappointed as most of this could be unlocked in the DS version including the hair salon and fortune teller, so it's not exactly 100% new or a real reason to call it a new game. This is a general problem I have had with a lot of games on the Wii which claim to be new and are just given a new title a very small addition made. To me this is not a new game and I am a little disappointed as when comparing games on the N64 to the GameCube there is obviously a huge step up in quality of game whereas on the Wii I have found that they may be added one extra thing to the game then rereleased it under false pretences.
Overall it is a good game but for those who have played the previous games not a lot has been added and as for the wireless system on this game they were much better utilised on the DS version.
If you already have the DS version there is not much point in getting this though it is available on Amazon and offline for around £20 I am a little annoyed that I had to pay £40 full price at the time of release for a game I had already essentially played.
My Experience with Sonic the Hedgehog
Ok as many of you may know I have been playing video games since I was a wee girl of maybe three and I was there when the NES and Sega mega drive was around. When I was a child the main protagonists of the gaming world were Sonic the Hedghog and Mario in my eyes there was nobody else, this was before Pokémon, gears of war or Portal, video games were two dimensional and basic pure addiction with no fixation on camera angles or scantily clad ladies, it was a different time.
However as Mario and his friends have went up and forward in the gaming world with a few little bumps along the way in terms of their gameplay and overall quality Sonic the Hedgehog I am afraid to say has plummeted. I have to say that the last great sonic game that was created was sonic adventure battle two on the dream cast and the original sonic advance game for the GBA. This was because they were kept simple in that sonic=speed, sonic does not need a sword, spaceship or go-kart for crying out loud he is a genetically mutated small mammal with running shoes he is designed to speed through the land and make smart mouth comments at evil villains who want to bring fear and destruction to the world.
It was because of my general disappointment in Sonic games after Sonic Advance that I boycotted buying those that were available on the GameCube and Wii until recently because they would not withstand my severe critique and comparison due to their poor quality compared to what they could and should be.
For some reason in this game sonic seems to turn into a warehog at night and has befriended a small flying called chip who is obsessed with eating ice cream. You must play through the levels and areas of the game to recover artefacts, moon medallions and sun medallions. For whatever reason this is I have no real idea. All I know is that you play through a beach resort much like that of super Mario Sunshine and that happiness and light is being sapped away from the area again much like super Mario sunshine, so in that respect it feels a bit ripped off.
Overall the gameplay is pretty easy to get to grips with normal day time sonic as he must dash through areas collecting rings and fighting bad guys while going through loop de loops in a 3D world. The camera angles are pretty decent and the actions of sonic correspond pretty well with the use of the Wii mote. However there seems to be a little too much effort invested in integrating the Wii motion aspect to this game. If you want to dash you have to shake the Wii mote which disrupts fluidity. The controls for sonic could have been reduced down to something similar of that in the dream cast in my opinion.
Dark ware hog sonic in my opinion is a little unnecessary, again you must travel through areas fighting off bad guys and collecting rings and medallions, his actions largely work in correspondence to the Wii mote again but you once again have to shake the Wii mote fiercely to attack but every other time you do your direction gets kind of messed up and he is slow to keep up the pace of some of the night time baddies which is pretty annoying. Another aspect of being dark sonic is that you have to swing and climb up things which can also be rather awkward, time consuming and annoying.
Overall the aspect of playing as dark sonic is totally unnecessary and would have been better just leaving it out as it doesn't really bring anything to the game. Besides that we already had dark sonic or an alternative side known as Knuckles the echidna and Shadow the Hedgehog. Does anybody remember them? This has sort of already been done and it's not as if dark sonic in this is bad or evil in anyway he's just big, furry, clunky and slow.
It's not really a real plot to make a game out of even if the regular sonic levels are pretty fun and do take me back as a lot of improvement has been made over the last decade or so I do have to just ask what is the point.
Furthermore the game is slowed down by having to talk to local human inhabitants of the area who aren't in the slightest bit shocked by your appearance or the fact you are a giant blue talking animal and the loading times which happen far too frequently that make you want to skeet the disc out the window like a Frisbee.
This is particularly bad when the game is teaching you the controls which would be totally unnecessary should they have kept the controls simple to begin with.
I have to say the visuals are really good, the environments are very beautiful and well developed and when sonic transforms you can see the fur move in the wind, the moonlight and sunlight at different times of the day vary the village greatly visually too so I can't really complain at all in terms of the visuals.
The characters speak in the cut scenes and it is pretty well done, the music is pleasant memorable and suits the coastal setting which the game is based, though chips voice can get a little annoying when he gets going.
I am not sold really, the game feels a little slapped together with no real character development or plot to be seen, I think they should stick with Sonic and tails and keep in the speed aspect while reducing the new character intake there are already enough sonic characters out there and let's face it the only villain a real Sonic fan wants to see is Dr Robotnik. The genre is heading in the right direction with its visuals audio and gameplay with regular sonic but the unnecessary addition of a side story such as ware hog Sonic spoils this game.
Available for around £12-20 on amazon.co.uk it's not exactly a bad game it's just lacking a real plot. Though it may not be great for a snooty gaming connoisseur like me I pretty sure that younger kids would really enjoy it as there's nothing really objectionable in this game, the environments are colourful and it's easy enough to get to grips with after you get through the lengthy tutorial at the beginning.
The fact that you have to stop and communicate with the local people by reading want they are telling you on screen could also be seen as educational as encourages children to read and engage in the story so they become more envolved.
Fridge clear-out Stuffed Peppers
Basically in my house we end up with a lot of half onions, tomatoes and various other veg which generally go to waste. For some reason there was an entire net of Tesco market value peppers just lying at the bottom of the fridge too, they were a little wrinkly getting on the outside and I knew if something wasn't done with them soon the peppers they would end up in the compost bin.
Leftovers I used
4 slightly less than crispy peppers doesn't really matter the size or colour
Half a large red onion and half a large white onion (these just happen to be halves in my fridge that weren't going to be used but a whole large fresh onion would work too)
2-3 cloves of garlic depending on their size
A very soft and ripe large tomato or half a tin of chopped tomatoes
A small or half a courgette
Salt and pepper
Basil leaves, fresh if possible
Cheese-cheddar or another hard cheese
Left over mushrooms if you have them
Step1-Chop the heads off all the peppers and scoop out all the pith with a spoon and knife, then leave to side on a baking tray.
Step2- Chop up all the other ingredients into cubes finely chopping and crushing the garlic and basil, stick the chopped vegetables into a bowl with the herbs and throw in a few glugs of olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste.
Step3- Get out the cheese grater and grate the cheese, I would say 200g is a good amount but I am aware some people worry about fat content and may like less or some people like things very cheesy so would want more, so whatever you think.
Step4-Get a Frying pan out and set it on a high heat, when it is very hot throw in your chopped vegetables in the olive oil and preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Turn down the heat and stir fry you veg ensuring everything is mixed through and the onions become soft.
Step5- After about 5-10minutes take the veg off the heat and start scooping into the peppers topping off with cheese.
Step6- Set the stuffed peppers in the oven in the middle shelf for 20 minutes to start with. Some peppers take half an hour to 40 minutes it really depends on your pepper or how crunchy you like your vegies but I would say 20 minutes is the minimum.
Step7- Leave to cool for maybe 5-10 minutes and serve with rice, as is or with some nice crusty bread.
There you go a nice healthy meal without spending a fortune and using p your left overs, I have also done this with tomatoes and Courgettes it works with most vegies that can be hollowed out and eaten whole.
Why I bought this charm
For my 21st birthday my Auntie bought me the very special gift of a hot diamonds charm bracelet from Argento. Being a student and not a very wealthy one for that matter I generally thought that paying between £10-£50 for a hot diamond or karma charm was just way too expensive for me and I didn't really want anyone else to spend that amount on me considering all you are paying for is a brand name and you can get equally great quality charms from the likes of Avon or small local boutiques.
The charm itself
The charm itself is around 150mm in size with a medium size lobster clasp. Because of the standard sort of clasp you can attach it to almost any charm bracelet that contains links, though because the clasp is quite small you may have trouble attaching it to Pandora style bracelets that have just one band. So this can be advantageous or disadvantageous depending on what bracelet you have chosen to begin with.
The charm is silver plated and thus far I have noticed absolutely no tarnishing on this charm or any other charms I have received from Avon thus far, the charm is very light much more so than those from Pandora or Argento which is a definite advantage as you can then optimise the number of charms on your bracelet at any one time too which I really like as I have accumulated quite a few by this stage.
The charm is incrusted with little red transparent acrylic stones which make the charm really cute and pretty to look at. I know what some people are saying "oh acrylic stones how pedestrian and cheap looking, why not get one that has a proper gemstone in it." However I have stopped buying anything with precious or semi-precious gemstones unless they are pearls, tourmaline (fossilised dinosaur body fluids which turn the shades of watermelon from pale pink to dark greeny blue only found in areas of Scotland or North America to my knowledge) or unless I can be absolutely 100% sure that the gems where ethically excavated and no people were harmed during the process.
Don't know if anybody else knows that it is largely the poor in less economically developed countries who risk their lives every day to find valuable gemstones for large multinational corporations and get paid very little for the raw product that they find. Though it is because of this that I would rather not go for anything with diamonds or sapphires as I have no idea where they may have come from and the person who has excavated it may have already died from a cave in at a mine or inhalation of toxic gases.
I know that Avon is not the most ethically sound of all the companies out there but they do, do their bit for the charity sector in funding against breast cancer, domestic violence through selling jewellery and mugs on their behalf and promote the regrowth of the forests through selling bags for life.
Therefore I am happier purchasing from Avon than Argento or Pandora whom I have never seen helping any charity organisations or promoted the fact that all their sources are ethically sound, so I hope you can see where I am coming from. The staff at our local shops are rude, snobby and dont seem to know what they are talking about either so they do not inspire me with great confidence. To be honest I cant really see any of these staff abseiling down the BT tower or university building to help out a great cause. Though I know a couple of Avon representatives who do and have done.
On a lighter note when comparing all the charms on my bracelet two of which are Argento and the rest being Avon in the large picture it is very difficult to tell the makes apart at first glance you have to look very closely and even then it is pretty difficult without feeling the difference in weight. The biggest difference between them is the price! The Avon equivalent can drop as low as £2 with the regular price being £4 which is great value regardless as Argento can charge four times that amount for a similar product in both quality and durability.
If you're also worried about gifting someone with this and are worried that the display box will be very cheap and won't look that appealing, you will be pleasantly surprised. All the charms come in their own little attractive cardboard box with tissue paper and cleaning instructions. Being cardboard it can be recycled if you wish to discard it or if you want to keep it it's a very good little box too as it is pretty durable and keeps your charm safe inside.
Waking up in Kokiri Village Link has largely accepted that he is the same as all the other children that live in the Kokiri Forest, forever protected by the Great Deku Tree. However unlike the other children he does not have a fairy guardian like everyone else. Upon late both Link and the Great Deku Tree have been having dark dreams about the destruction of Hyrule. This is the land in which the little forest resides.
To be more specific Link is dreaming of Ganondorf a large evil looking man who came from the desert, in this dream the Princess of Hyrule, Zelda a young girl around the same age as Link is being chased by the menacing Ganondorf. This dream is a portrayal of future events.
The Great Deku Tree then summons a fairy guardian for Link and explains to Link that he must collect the 3 spiritual stones which reside all around the land, one in the forest, one inside a mountain and one inside a whale. Only then can Link save Hyrule from Ganondorf and return peace and normality to the land. However like most plots this isn't as easy as it seems and even once the stones are collected Ganondorf still manages to take over the land sending Link seven years into the future. He then has to deal with Ganondorf in adult form after rescuing more people in the form of sages and collecting more items of spiritual value in the form of medallions. This reminded me a little of samurai Jack which was released on cartoon network around the same time as the game, I think there was some influence by this game to create a great time travelling action cartoon.
The game is a one player 3D plat former game with elements of puzzle and adventure as you must explore a medieval world and fight off evil creatures. Initially you start off with nothing and have to build up your arsenal with swords and shields each with their own qualities for different environments. You also collect bombs, bows, arrows, magic spells, extra heart pieces which add addition hit points, masks, bottles for holding potion and rupees which are the worlds currency.
The game play is during both day and night and different things occur during these two time zones, for instance skeletons appear in Hyrule field at night and shops close.
You must play through dungeons which I find vary gradually in difficulty as you play through the game. In order to complete later dungeons however you must travel back and forth through time as some of the items you collect as a child do not work in your adult form.
In order to collect information you must also communicate with the characters around you which vary greatly from your everyday human beings to Zora who are half human half fish, Goron who are essentially rock eating golems and the Gerudo tribe whom are the female pirates who spawned Ganondorf. I really enjoyed the variety of characters in this and the fact that they all come together despite their differences to achieve the one goal of defeating evil, I think it's a really great representation even if it's only in a microcosm how if people put aside their differences and worked together to achieve a better world then they can achieve it. Maybe we could learn from this game.
The visuals aren't exactly HD but they are still very charming in my opinion and if you don't think they are up to scratch any longer then you can always play this game on the 3DS where the visuals are almost immaculate. In my opinion however remaking it just to make it look nicer spoils it a bit for me I enjoyed the original even if it isn't as sharp or smooth in comparison to other games released today.
The landscapes are vast and varying, if you are playing a game like this one for the first time then it will seem like quite a large world to explore from markets and farms to giant lakes and lands were only the dead roam you won't get tired of looking at this game and playing through the different areas.
The music is orchestrated beautifully, I am pretty sure you can purchase the original soundtrack for this game online as it is that pleasant to listen too. The characters don't really speak as such put communicate through text boxes and simply grunt or make little happy or surprised noises. The only sound in this game that grates on your nerves is your fairy who is constantly shouting "hey!" Or "Listen". If you're straying off your immediate quest she will shout at you and remind you where you should be, which is annoying if you want to do a side quest first and gain more magical power or hit points before starting a new dungeon and she does not just shut up about it either which is a little frustrating, I am pretty sure this was amended with the sequel Majora's mask.
The animals all make regular and accurate animal noises though and I think any vocals made by animal or humanoid are pretty spot on and they don't feel out of place. A rooster even crows at sun up and a wolf howls at sundown.
I really doubt the original N64 version is available any longer; however you can get it for the GameCube which also plays on the Wii for around £20 or get the new 3D version for the 3DS for between £30-£40. If you really liked this game I would seriously encourage you to get Majora's mask which is a lot more challenging with less dungeons and more side quests or the Twilight princess which feels like a more direct lead on in terms of the gameplay and world.
My experience with Ivy
To me Ivy is the worst and best plant, I have seen it cover walls of houses, forest floors and even constrict and strangle the strongest and largest of trees and bushes. Because I studied Biology at GCSE and A-level I have to look at it in terms of its success as a plant and as a great garden accompaniment.
As a successful plant species
The plant has adapted to survive virtually anywhere in terms of the varieties we have in Northern Ireland. The leaves are dark green and full of chlorophyll much more than other species, this helps them to collect more light for energy creation and growth, the positioning and shape of the leaves are also adapted so that they can collect as much light as possible, the leaves are evenly spaced out so they can maximise the amount of light they can collect also. This gives the plant the advantage in our usually dull and rainy climate especially when on a forest floor.
The leaves also have a waxy exterior and are thicker than other species too so they don't lose as much water through the upper epidermis layer, this reduces the amount of water lost through evaporation, so the plant doesn't need as much constant access to water even as other species it is surrounded by. When it does have lots of access to water and light however it flourishes engulfing and strangling all other plants in its path, therefore it is one of the best adapted species of plant we have in Northern Ireland.
From a Gardener's Perspective
However its adaptability can also be a bad thing as I have seen on numerous occasions the plant becomes out of control. Ivy has totally constricted and killed a large tree in our back garden, the tree is totally rotted and the only thing holding it up is the ivy itself which shows no sign of retreating, it has only grown stronger forming a thick leathery wall of overwhelming plant life.
In the instance that it grows at a tremendous rate can be dangerous to the more fragile plants in the garden, so it really needs to be kept an eye on something my family fell very far behind on.
There is a really great advantage to having an ivy wall however in that it provides a secret haven for smaller species of animals that are currently losing their forest habitats and falling ill to disease such as bees and small bird species. It provides cover, food from flowers and berries and safety from the rain, so it is really a matter of perspective whether or not ivy is a good plant to have in your garden. It provides cover, food and safety from the rain.
Interesting instances of Ivy
There is a derelict shop in Belfast with a glass front which has basically been taken over by ivy from the inside, I have no idea how it got I there or where it seems to be getting its water supply from but it has basically taken over the good part of a half of the entire shop window and from what I can see there are no cracks in the glass or cement. This by itself is enough to provide us with the evidence that ivy is one of the most durable and adaptive species readily available in Northern Ireland.
Ultra Colour Rich Mega Impact Lipstick
Highly endorsed by the glamorous Reese Witherspoon, these lipsticks are a lot more vibrant in colour and perfect for the dominant woman wanting to stand out of the crowd and give a strong and powerful impression. Or at least that was the feeling I got from the adverts on television and in the brochure.
The lipstick comes in a standard roll up roll down tube in black with a silver band with the word AVON inscribed for easy identification. The base also contains the shade in word form and colour so you can quickly identify it if you are searching around in your bag for it and have maybe three types of lipstick for different special occasions. I know. I really need to invest in a make-up bag as most of my make-up items spend their time rolling around the very bottom of my very large bag which is absolutely packed with various everyday objects including ear muffs and university notes.
The lipstick itself
The shape of the lipstick is rather unique in my opinion square or almost rectangular in shape it is different from any lipstick I have ever applied before and initially I have to admit I was a little confused in the direction in which it should be used. The shape is said to optimise application perfection but it does mean that you have to hold it in your hand and look in the mirror the first few times you use it just to make sure you get it in the right places. After the first few uses you get pretty used to it and application feels pretty natural.
The shades are quite diverse and have a good range, they include:
Never so Nude
Being a large consumer of Avon products I know that my shade is the Rosy variety when it comes to their lipsticks being of fair, freckly and pale skin with light auburn hair I find the other shades either overpower me or make me look really pale and almost sickly so with rosy I shall stick. I know two other ladies who have tried this however and they are of darker complexion and hair colour and they prefer the personified plum and Mocha Madness shades so overall there is a shade to suit everyone. Though I do think that the Devine Wine and Fuschia Fun are really very powerful colours and I don't think I know anyone who has been brave enough to take on those shades.
The lipsticks do last a good few hours though reapplication will be in order if you are eating, drinking or ahem having a romantic evening * wink wink.*
If you find that this lipstick does not have the durability that you had hoped you could also try Avon's long lasting range which am pretty sure costs the same amount with paler shades available.
These lipsticks cost £8.50 at full price which is pretty good for a celebrity endorsed item, but what is better is that Avon quite frequently offers them at the reduced price from between £3.50-£5 which I thought is amazing value. Avon are even offering a party gift set at the moment which contains the lipstick in pink pop with a supercurlacious mascara, a clutch bag, black eyeliner and quad eye pallet for only £9.99 which I think is amazing value. I think this is to start off their Christmas campaign which I find always has some really great bargains in it compared to the high street.
Why I purchased this product
It was actually a male member of the family who regularly attends the gym and the pool who requested this so I purchased it for them. Not willing to use wax stripes and due to the amount of hair on their back shaving really wasn't an option. So I ended up acting as beauty therapist and applied this cream on their back for them since it's quite an awkward place to reach so I have first-hand experience applying and removing the product.
The cream is in a blue and white box with the instantly identifiable skin so soft or S.S.S logo on the front of the packaging. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the box hadn't been bashed or damaged in transit. The box also contains a warning to keep away from your eyes and that it contains thioglycolate and alkali which I found useful in case you may be allergic. The box also states that the product is from the soft and smooth range and contains a complex moisturiser which insures that it is good for dry skin users.
The cream comes with a little paper leaflet and a plastic tool to swiftly apply and remove the cream which works very smoothly.
The cream itself
I was quite pleasantly surprised to find that the cream itself smells very pleasant almost like a very mild sweet cherry perfume. This was new to me as the last hair removal cream I used was Veet about six years ago and it smelled vile like burning hair, so I definitely appreciated this. The cream wasn't too thick or thin; it wasn't lumpy, white in colour and very easy applied to my male family members back. Overall the application process was easy and pleasant enough experience.
Due to the hair being about three times as thick and long as female body hair I left the cream on for just after ten minutes. After which almost all the hair came off smoothly with very little or absolutely no irritation to speak of. Any redness was from the use of the plastic tool accompanying the cream and the only reason this occurred was because this member of the family had a lot more hair than me and it took a good going at it to just physically rub all the hair away.
This was a very effective product that did everything it promised on the box, my male family member whom I will not name in case they find out and get told off was not put off by the smell being too feminine and they told me there was no burning or tingling sensation. They also said it lasted a good two weeks before they noticed a large amount of hair regrowth too. So overall this is a great product.
However me personally I will stick with professional waxing, but for those who can't stand the pain this is a definite reliable second fall back plan which is cheaper too at £3-£6 per box so I would highly recommend.
My Family and Lettuce
My family have always been into their salads with their pasta, pizza and fish dishes and with the price of food going up and price and the general quality dropping it made sense to see if we could grow it instead. Out of one packet of seeds which cost £1 we managed to get three years of leaves, and with shops charging that amount for one lettuce at a time I would highly recommend it.
What you will need:
Grow bag/compost and a bed of soil/compost and a long trough like container
Lots of water
Small pots and compost for the initial seed planting
We planted the maybe five seeds in each little pot of compost, once they grew to the size of a thumb we then thinned them out and planted the strongest out in a trough filled with compost on our window sill, watering regularly throughout. We planted mainly little gems with some exotic leaves that tasted mildly of mustard.
The lettuce grew for around 8-9months and lasted us all the way up until early winter. Not only did we save money but the lettuce we grew ourselves tasted of more like an earthy sweet taste, they were definitely more moist, crispy and more healthy looking. By cutting and eating the outside leaves all the time we allowed the plants to regrow and maintain their newer young leaves, so I think that this lead to their longer life.
We again used the same seeds and we repeated the same initial growing procedures for the seeds. However we decided this year to do twice the amount of seeds. We actually ended up with too much lettuce this year, planting them in the garden bed, the trough in the window sill and giving them away in pots to friends and family to replant in their gardens. The lettuce seemed to flourish in the second of year beyond expectations and lasted for around the same length of time.
We followed the same procedures as the following two previous years however half the seeds we planted this time round didn't even grow and when we planted them outside they didn't seem to grow very big, although that may be also due to the horrible weather we had that year and it was too cold for them, but in short the shelf life of seed packets should really be only two years anyway so I think we did fairly well, with what we had.
Things to be aware of
Slugs and snails are always on the lookout for small moist seedlings, so the salt shaker is always a powerful weapon especially when it rains, we even bought a kinetic energy torch for the darker damper evenings. We don't believe in slug pellets or poisonous solutions as we have lots and lots of birds and the occasional fox and hedgehog in the garden.
My experience with Nintendo
I have been an avid Nintendo Game player and collector since I was maybe three years of age, I have played almost all the Mario games available in the UK and own the majority of the consoles released to date including the NES, SNES, N64, GameCube, Gameboy, Gameboy Pocket, Gameboy Colour, Gameboy Advance, Gameboy Advance SP, Nintendo DS and Nintendo DSi and Wii. In all the ups and downs which Nintendo has had over the years I have been supporting them and purchasing their products regardless of their popularity.
When I got the Wii
I received the Wii as well as Wii play the first Christmas it was available, initially the new form of gameplay was very exciting and fun to play with over the Winter holidays with loads of friends, families and neighbours coming in to play, so the social aspect of this was great as every age group could play.
Coming in a large cardboard box with all the internal components surrounded with plastic and polystyrene the Wii was quite safe and sound until it was disturbed on Christmas morning, however I have to be a little concerned about all the wastage in the packaging that comes from game consoles and ends up on a landfill some where every Christmas. It's a bit much really I think that something should really be done about that for a start if possible.
The Wii was very easy to set up via scart lead, you only really have 3 pieces to put together in terms of the main console which are the sensory bar, the scart lead and the plug, so in terms of its predecessors it's a lot easier to set up in a hurry.
The controllers are also fairly easy to set up, pretty much just add batteries and synch the little button on the inside of the remote with the little section in front of the Wii console itself. So again relatively easy to set up, the kids can even do it. However again I am a little sceptic over the amount of extra batteries have ended up on a landfill due to this new generation of consoles which are controlled wirelessly, especially for those who play more than 4 hours a day.
The Product visually
Originally white in colour and half the size of the original opposing Game consoles it doesn't take up much space, being white in colour however it seems to be prone to getting grubby and shows up finger prints very easily. In its defence however it is very light and portable, its pretty good for youth group activities and physical activities as it does get you off your seat most of the time and does have exercise associated games promoting good health.
The Wii's ease of use in terms of Game play really varies depending on the quality of game you're playing in a lot of ways, I think it also depends on the amount of space you have, the larger the room the more people can play and the better the sensory bar reacts to your movements. It is backwards compatible also so you can still use your GameCube remote for your GameCube games.
A new facility of the Wii is the opportunity to download games from previous consoles from a number of different franchises which work with the Wii remote or an old GameCube remote, though I think it's a little unfair how they charge you usually a good deal of money for them, especially if they were games you may previously have owned or do own and just aren't compatible with the Wii since they are cartridges. If you don't have a GameCube remote you are also forced to go purchase a classic remote which will cost even more money.
The thing I really didn't like about the Wii is its power to stream the internet, it seems to be really poor when you aren't just playing multiplier online games or using one of the Wii's channels. I also dislike that you need to request a friend code in order to talk and properly play online multiplayers with other people online. This is probably a great concept for people that have kids and don't want them talking to strange people on the internet, but I think this has put people off the Wii as this is a definite plus for those who own the xbox360 or playstation3.
Overall it's rather restricting and if they couldn't get it right for the Wii then they should have waited until their next console to utilise it properly.
Game Quality and availability
I have to say that I am really disappointed, I just feel like Nintendo have sold out if I am honest. The games that I was most looking forward to have taken one step forward and three steps back.
Firstly the new paper Mario game: Nintendo took out the role playing aspect and turned it into a pure plat former pretty much so it shouldn't be called paper Mario as it doesn't follow the first two in any way really and I would have been fine with that, but it just feels like they lazily slapped something together under false branding. Yes it's a good game but no, it's not a real paper Mario game.
Secondly Animal Crossing its virtually the same as the GameCube or DS version again it feels like they have just thrown something out there without any real thought put into it, again it is good but it's not really a new game.
Thirdly the new 3D Pokémon Revolutions Game for the Wii- It is not good, I was really looking forward to it but again got rid of all the elements I loved from the N64 and GameCube equivalents. There are no fun mini game multiplayer games and there is no virtual bedroom to see your bedroom or secret base in 3D, I have to say shame on you Nintendo for sending out a half assed seemingly only half finished game and for the full £39.99, not impressed at all, where are the fun and unique quirks?
Fourthly Nintendo what is with rereleasing loads of GameCube titles with Wii controls? Surely they were good games like pikmin or Metroid, but your loyal followers already have these from whenever they were playing their GameCube! All GameCube games can be played on the Wii; we want new games not rehashes. Again I have no disrespect to the old games but I have played them already, I want something new.
Fifthly there are a number of other games I have gripes about but am sure you can get the gist about where I am coming from. I jus twish Nintendo would be careful what games they endorse.
The good games
There are some really good games for the Wii including super Mario galaxy 1 and 2, Wario Ware, samba de amigo and the Zelda titles, but the majority of the games I am sorry to say aren't that great quality, Nintendo seems to be licensing any title under the sun which overall keeps the masses happy but is a little unrewarding for those who have been supporting the company even in its darker days. In short for every great game there is on the Wii there are five more that were available on the GameCube, the Wii is more of a novelty these days rather than a console which is good in some ways but bad in others. Nintendo need to really decide which they wish to develop in the future.
The initial release was fun and I enjoyed the console for the first year but the general lack of quality games being released was a big problem for me, the lack of decent online capabilities didn't help any either. The Wii was very promising but for me as a Nintendo nerd, it really didn't deliver all it promised.
Ways they could make it up to me in the next console
New Pikmin, Pokémon and Paper Mario game please which actually deliver what their predecessors did, better internet options, less expensive and new game downloads I feel a bit cheated paying for games I already have.
From £90-£120 on Amazon.co.uk which is pretty cheap compared to other consoles and ideal for a young family out of all the consoles out there at the moment but maybe not that great for a Nintendo nerd like me who likes their games to be a bit more unique, quirky and outside the box.
I may have to move to the XBOX360 just for the access to the valve games and super meat boy.
Most commonly available in a black glass 700ml bottle with gold writing. The bottle has three labels to help with the description and presentation of the product, these contain information such as the alcohol content which was 17%, the fact that it is produced in Dublin Ireland and the fact that it does not make a good beverage to mix with citric juices. It is easily identified on super market and off licence shelves, though has many replicas in the form of super market alternatives.
Flavour and consistency
The product is smooth, moreish, thick and creamy. Though the alcoholic spirits and whiskey content can be tasted quite strongly which may put some people off drinking it if they prefer milder sweet drinks.
The product doesn't smell that strongly of alcohol either, instead it smells very creamy and sweet almost like honey or cookies and cream ice cream. I will be honest I am not a whiskey connoisseur but as far as I can gather the ingredients for this product seem to be very high quality.
I have always loved the flavour of Baileys, when I was little we used to head to the coast every summer and the local ice cream shop had lots of very different flavours one of which was called Baileys cream and ever since then I was pretty much hooked. My family were very open to me drinking alcohol as a teenager providing I did so while in their presence so this along with Guinness was one of my first proper drinks. Though I don't know if my drinks of preference are a good thing as I am from Northern Ireland and I don't want to seem like a typical stereotype. Though my grandmother's favourite drink was always Bailey's also so maybe Bailey's will always have a nostalgic feeling and memory for me.
Although I prefer the original you can also find this product with a twist of mint, caramel or hazelnut and since I don't particularly like nuts or mint that limits me slightly. Though you can get pretty drunk on this stuff I definitely prefer this drink to the likes of WKD or alternative bottled drinks available on nights out.
Serving suggestion-Babyley -My own creation
First get a pint glass and either milk or vanilla ice cream, some Baileys original and some golden syrup.
Using the milk fill the glass up ¾ or ½ icecream and ¼ milk.
Then add 1/8 of Baileys.
Then add one and a half table spoons of golden syrup and using a hand held mixer, mix the concoction together.
If that is too sweet for some however then just add ice, I just have a very sweet tooth and am very into my milkshakes.
Just to state the obvious this product does contain milk so may be unsuitable for some.
For more information on Baileys head to www.baileys.com, though they definitely didn't have this in my grans day.
Experience with Courgettes and Marrows
I was never found of the usual vegetables when I was a child such as carrots or parsnips as a child and was rather turned off most vegetables if they weren't green (I know what a weird child who loves all of her green vegetables). So my parents would cook courgettes fried up with garlic and a bit of lemon juice and still do. It was only recently that we discovered that they were the easiest thing on the planet to grow in our climate.
What we needed to grow them:
Lots of water
A grow bag, large pot or well composted soil bed
Basically what we did was plant the seeds in small composted pots and then when they were strong and large enough we transplanted them outside in large pots, and what used to be out flower bed though a grow bag would do fine also. Settling them in with lots of water, a few weeks to months later the plants started producing flowers followed by vegetable like nobody's business, just remember to keep watering them and to break or twist off the courgettes or marrows instead of cutting this encourages the plant to keep on producing.
Some things we have learned not to do
If you do live in a damp environment like we do, do not let the vegetable directly touch the soil as it causes them to rot. Instead put hay or straw under them, otherwise the slugs and snails get them. I would also advise you to eat them when they are small and tender. If they get too big then they develop a large hole down the centre so you end up with around the same amount of vegetable but not as sweet or tender and they tend to develop a prickly skin which isn't too nice.
In Comparison To Store Bought Equivalent
There isn't any comparison, the home grown version tastes so much better in texture, flavour and you know no junks gone into them too. We have also saved a great deal of money and usually have a steady supply for 3-6 months, plus it just feels good to eat something you have hand grown yourself.
Courgettes are so versatile too, you can make soup, pasta sauce or simply fry them up or stuff them, and there is no disadvantage to growing them unless you dislike the taste of them of course.
Easy to grow, they don't take up a lot of space, generally produce a lot of vegetables providing you look after them and you can cook them so many different ways what's not to like.