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Inspired by the excellent cast I chose to buy this dvd knowing something without guns or superheroes always wins me points with the fiancee. The DVD has an all star cast including Julia Roberts, Ryan Reynolds, Ioan Gruffudd and Carrie-Anne Moss.
It is hard to summarise the plot of the film, as there really isn't one. The film is more of a modern indie flick in nature, slowly examining fractured family relationships. I can't say the film makes for comfortable viewing. Each of the characters flaws are shown wide, and all of them come across as cold and unreachable.
The small semblance of plot that there was was left very open ended. I know that that is increasingly common, but that does not mean I enjoy it any more!
Despite the cast, and some great cinematography, that isn't enough to save this film. I felt it really dragged on, and the lack of plot or substance, coupled with there being no relatable characters meant I was completely bored. I thought this might just be a guy thing, but my fiancee calmly got up at the end, put the dvd back in the box, and put it straight in the bin!
In January I was looking for an inexpensive blender to make some soups and milkshakes when my hand blender wasn't cut out for the job. I spotted this one on Amazon reduced from £99.99 to £24.69, which seemed like a great deal.
Taking it out the box I was immediately confused how this is valued at £99.99. It is made of cream plastic, and has a very basic finish. There is only one speed, although there are a couple of attachments. Turning it on was the biggest shock though, its incredibly loud! The cat shot up the stairs and stayed there crying for half an hour, while my brother came running through thinking the hoover had sucked up rocks.
For the first few times it worked okay. It blends frozen banana to a smooth milkshake in about 3 minutes, which feels a bit long to me, but at least it does it in the end. However after 3 washes it has now failed. Putting liquid into the jug it immediately pours through some kind of faulty seal between the jug and the cream plastic ring under it, not even the place where the jug meets the base stand.
I am very dissapointed with the product, and even without the failed jug and subsequent leaks, I do not think it is worth even the £24 price tag, let alone the staggering £99.
Like almost everyone, I've spent my fair share of time in Ikea buying tealights. I went and got all my basics before university. Which then matched all my flatmates basics that they had also gotten from Ikea.
And thats why I don't shop there anymore. I don't want my house to match everyone elses, I would rather have a unique piece of art on my walls than the same pre printed picture of pebbles everyone else has. Yes Ikea may be cheap and convenient, but it is also mass market.
The old adage 'you get what you pay for' holds true here as well, the furniture tends to be laminated compacted wood, and the smallest mark removes the finish and it very quickly looks battered. Given the life expectancy of one of these items I do have to question if its not better value to buy a piece of solid wood furniture for twice the price, that will last four times longer.
Ikea stock a huge range of homewares, from bedding to sofas, knick knacks to pots and pans, Christmas decorations to lighting. If you are setting up house there is pretty much nowhere you can do so cheaper or easier, all the furniture comes flat pack so you can easily fit it in your car, and anything that doesn't fit you can pay to have it delivered.
For me Ikea was good when I was a student, but now I'm looking to feather my nearly-wed nest, I want something a bit more sturdy, a bit more unique and for that I'm happy to pay just a bit more.
There is a huge buzz about Primark, or Primarni as I have heard it coined. I come from Ireland, where Primark is known as Penney's, which apparently was originally the name in the UK as well.
Primark is a national chain of value clothing merchants. In the early part of the decade it was deeply unfashionable to admit to buying anything more than your tights here, but credit crunch chic took over, and now everyone and their grandma wears their Primark like a badge of honor.
Primark specalises in clothing, and stocks mens, womens and childrens, although they do also stock a small range of housewares such as bedding and tea towels.
Clothing is mass produced and cheap. Cutting edge design, or high quality workmanship this is not. But it is cheap, and at £8 for a pair of jeans or £3 for a t-shirt you don't expect it to last a lifetime, you just go and buy a new one. My fiancee refuses to shop here as she says all the clothes are made for rectangular people. And she's right, everything she has ever tried on in there refuses to acnoledge the existance of her waist, and if it fits the waist then its splitting the seams up top so she just can't win.
However me being a man I have a lot less ins and outs than womenfolk, and rectangular clothes suit me fine. Men pretty much are this shape anyway, allowing for some widening or narrowing in the middle.
I've generally had pretty good experiences with their clothes, my dressing gown has survived over 20 goes through the washing machine now, my socks are still sock-like, and my t-shirts have held their colour and shape well. Unfortunately I've had a few bad experiences lately, like the jogging bottoms I got for the gym where the bottom sagged down halfway to the knees after only one wash and wear. Or the boxer shorts so restrictive on the legs yet baggy enough to need a drawstring on the waist I had to question whether they had sewn childrens legs to adults pants. Add in the fact the front pouch was (no joke) big enough to fit a baby kangaroo in I just shot the whole 5 pack in the bin.
I'm not trying to knock Primark, I've had some great bargains from there, but sometimes they drop such a clanger I'm reminded why I get my good clothes elsewhere.
Having previously tried the Weight Watchers Ham and Pineapple oval I was excited to see another flavour shop up in my local freezer shop. At 79p they seemed a decent price, although they go for £1.39 in the supermarket. These aren't huge pizzas like you'd normally gey, but a small oval about the size of a pitta bread.
At only 232cals the pizza is very low on calories, and you can afford to stick a large salad on the side or even some low fat chips or garlic bread to bulk out the meal. I have a pretty small appetite, and it wasn't even enough for me.
Where the ham and pineapple pizza oval seemed to have a lot of toppings, this one was much more sparse, with almost no cheese, and th toppings there were were clustered in the centre. This meant the oval did not cook evenly and was still quite raw in the centre long after the base had burned.
I did not rate this one as highly as the ham and pineapple oval, and even then neither are in any way comparablw to an actual pizza. If you're on a diet and craving your pizza fix I would rather have a single slice of a thin and crispy real pizza than this dry, battered oval any day.
Teesside Shopping Park is a large out of town shopping park in the North East of England in Cleveland. It is very easy to get to, situated where the A19 crosses the A66.
Teesside Park can roughly be broken down into 4 areas. As you enter the park on the left is an area of individual buildings accomdating chain restaurants, including Pizza Express, Chiquitos, Frankie & Bennys and TGI Fridays.
Moving on there is a central area of shops including a large Morrisons, Currys, Staples, Toys R Us and Pets at home. This area seems quite seperate from any of the other areas, as you have to park at the individual shops rather than in a central car park, and pedestrian access is limited.
To the North of the site is the entertainment crescent, with a large 18 screen cinema, casino, bowling alley, Pizza Hut and Burger King. There is also a nightclub which is arguably open, and in a bit of a state. This area is very popular with teenagers, as they can be dropped off, grab a bit and a movie with friends, in an environment parents know is security monitored at all times.
The final area is the most popular. A large 'U' of shops with all the high street favourites such as Next and Boots, as well as furniture shops, travel agents, sports shops and speciality shops such as Hobbycraft. The shopping area is always very busy, and is clearly popular, as shops are big names, there are no discount book stores or pound shops here.
All the areas have masses of parking, although the shops 'U' can fill up at peak times such as sales and weekends. Teesside Park is a very popular destination, and convenient for people to pop for a meal or pick up a present on the way home from work after town centre shops have shut.
To me the main drawback of Teesside Park is in the approach. The roads have been poorly connected, with huge bumps causing the car to take off if going over 20 miles an hour. In addition there is a gym on the left hand side as you approach. It has closed down several years ago now, but the site has not been bought by anyone else. Planning permission was refused for a white goods shop on the site. The gym is in terrible condition, boarded up, plants growing out the windows, and generally vandalised. A few times a year travellers decide to live in the car park until they eventually get moved on, which also increases break ins to cars parked in the area and litter, further pulling down the entry to Teesside Park. It really staggers me that the gym hasn't been pulled down or that no one wants to buy the site, but sadly it still stands there.
I would recommend Teesside Park to people shopping in the area, but to me its value is more as an entertainment destination to grab some cheap food and a pizza before a film, with a side of shopping, as there are no individual or boutique style shops to tempt me.
I've been drinking (read borderline addicted to) coca cola for a very long time. Been drinking it on and off for nigh on 2 decades. But in those 20 years I have gone on at least 3 diets (none of which were very successful for any number of reasons). Its been at times like this that I've gone mad for diet coke.
Considering that it is a carbonated beverage, the calaries in it are virtually non existent (only one per glass!!!!!). But the question many people ask, as they do with all diet products, is "how noticable a change is there in the taste".
I am still a bit surprised any time I honestly answer this question as I am alwaysed forced to say that the taste difference is noticable but it really doesnt matter that it is as the taste is just as good, if not even a bit better.
The main thing you will notice is that the flavour is less, for lack of a better term, full. Its somewhat more carbonated in flavour and the "cola" isnt as strong. However, even with all its failings, diet coke has got to be one of the very best diet replacement options on the market.
A few months ago we needed somewhere to stay in York as we were visting friends, and someone suggested the YHA to us. Having never stayed in a UK hostel I was a little nervous, but at £49 for two people (including non members surcharge) for a private room I felt it was worth the gamble. There are no double rooms, only twin rooms and the large dorms.
You have to make up your own beds, and the rooms are simple but clean. There are no private bathrooms, but they're just down the hall, although the loos were the smallest room I think I've ever been in - no good for the claustrophobic!
The hostel is within walking distance of the town centre and the train station and is easy to find, it takes about 25minutes to walk from the train station, longer with heavy bags!
The best thing about the hostel was the breakfasts, you got absolutely loads of food, full cooked breakfast with local produce, hot drinks, fresh juice, fruit, yoghurts, pastries, toast, cereal, everything you could possibly want!
The biggest downside is when walking into town we walked past a B&B which was only £10 per night more expensive, and in future when staying in York I'd go there as I'd rather have the double bed, and not have to make it on arrival.
When we stayed most of the hostel was taken over by a school party, and therefore it was really quiet and we did not have issues with being woken up late at night.
I would certainly recomend the hostel for anyone happy to sleep in a dorm, as it would be reasonably priced for the area and the breakfast is smashing.
I saw these on offer in the supermarket this week, 2 mousse for £1 and decided to give them a go. I do love chocolate, but am currently trying to watch my weight so these seemed like a great after dinner treat at only 106 calories.
Each mousse comes in quite a tall clear tub, and has a chocolate layer with a thinner vanilla mousse layer on top.
I first tried the vanilla layer and all I can say is I was not impressed. It tasted very artificial, and was oddly yellow. I ended up binning this layer and moving on to the mousse. I must have saved at least 30 of those calories by throwing out 1/3 of the mousse!
The chocolate layer is better, and tastes like most supermarket own brand mousses, a bit fake and dry, not strongly chocolatey, but you can tell what its supposed to be. If only this layer were in the pot I would consider buying one again.
However for that £1 I can also get a 4 pack of Cadbury's Hi-Lights mousses, which are slightly lower in calories, cheaper, and have that smooth, creamy Cadbury's taste. So in future thats what I will be buying, Weight Watchers have really missed the mark on this one.
There are times when only a pizza will do, however being on a bit of a diet at the moment and trying to get in shape for a triathalon I don't want to be eating loads of processed flour and cheese, so I opted for a Weight Watchers ham & Pineapple pizza oval.
The pizza is 100g, so about 1/4 of the weight of a normal pizza, and honestly not very filling at all. I had mine with a huge salad, and it kept me full for about 3 hours, then I was ready to hit the biscuit barrel.
Despite the tiny size, the taste is good, the base is a bit too crispy, but the top is moist and has an adequate amount of cheese. there is lots of pineapple and a fair bit of ham. However this was a bit clustered, meaning when the edges were burning it still wasn't cooked through in the middle.
Asda sell these for £1.32, reduced from £1.87 on their rollback scheme. I'm not sure if they will go up in price again soon. I have also seen some of the Weight Watchers pizzas in my local freezer shop for 69p.
The pizza only takes 7 minutes to cook from fresh, or 11 minutes from frozen. And at 200 calories or 3 1/2 Weight Watchers points its a filling alternative to a couple of biscuits, a bar of chocolate or bag of crisps, but I'd really struggle to call it a meal!
It being Christmas and considering that there are more single people than not in my office it seemed like we were going to go to a club somewhere for our party. So I was pleasantly surprised when it was suggested that we go to Sassari's for a meal before the nightclub. So I took a look at the menu and it looked quite impressive; however it did seem to try a little hard considering everything was titled in Italian with fancy descriptions underneath. It all looked like it should be high end food.
The reality was very different to the image projected. We booked a table and showed up 10 minutes early only to be told that we would have to wait a half hour to get our table, not exactly impressive. Then the £7 starter came, it was without a doubt the smallest serving of paté I have ever eaten and it still didn't have enough bread for it. And it was average quality at best. The pasta mains were fine but the meat (Steaks and Lamb chops) left a lot to be desired. The deserts were even worse. I've never had a Soufflé that was baked the whole way through before. I really was not impressed with that. But then to top it all off we were supposed to get a free bottle of house "wine" for every 4 people at the table, so we asked for a rosé and a white, which turned out to be 2 bottles of vinegar, and they charged us £12 a pop for.
All in all for the price of the food I was not impressed and will not be rushing back.
This model is the most basic of all the sonicare brushes, but at a very reasonable £22 on Amazon (RRP £50) it is also the most affordable. My dentist first started telling me to get a sonicare brush around 5 years ago. Not just an electric brush, he told me the best one for the job was a sonicare, as it works in a completely different way.
This toothbrush claims to brush deeper and give a cleaner, more thorough effect than any other brand of toothbrush. At £22 I was more than happy to put this claim to the test. I was pleasantly impressed with the results. For the first few days I did experience some discomfort and quite a bit of bleeding, however a couple of weeks on my gums are much healthier, my teeth are noticably whiter and cleaner.
For the first few days the very intense vibrations is certainly alarming, and seems very strong. However I got used to this suprisingly quickly and it doesn't bother me anymore.
One of my favourite features of this brush is that there is an inbuilt 2 minute timer, and the brush automatically turns off after this time. This means you start to get a better idea of how long you should be brushing your teeth for, and do a better job.
The biggest drawback to this brush is that it is battery operated. If you remember to use rechargables this isn't too much of an issue, but its a bit of a faff and an expense non the less.
Butlers is very common back in Ireland where I come from, and I am a big fan of their hot chocolate. Thick, creamy and really chocolatey with no powdery taste or bitter aftertaste, I was really dissapointed to discover nothing comes close to the taste over here.
In a Butlers cafe there is always a big vat of molten chocolate, and if you order a hot chocolate a big ladlefull of this is spooned into your cup, and topped up with hot, frothy milk.
The at home hot chocolate involves dropping a solid chocolate lump in the shape of a cup into a pan of hot milk, and stiring while it dissolves to stop it sticking or burning. The box also suggests using a mix of milk and cream, or the truely heart stopping just cream.
It is therefore fairly easy to prepare, although it is a shame it requires a hob which means I can't take any in to have at work.
I first made this using my normal semi-skimmed milk, and the results were good. Not great, but certainly better than any cup of hot chocolate made with a powder. However it was still thinner than a cup of proper Butlers chocolate. So I tried putting half milk and half single cream. This produced better results, thicker and creamier, but still not chocolatey enough. So I tried using two chocolate cups, and suddenly I was close enough to there!
Using two chocolate cups per mug does make this quite expensive. You get 10 little cups in a box, with the exchange rate as it is it is the equivalent of around £7 a pack, or around 12 euros. You can buy them in cafes mostly centered around Dublin, or purchase them online and have them delivered. They are a lovely treat, but to be honest I do think the price is very steep for what they are. They are thicker than normal chocolate, but for the price I'd rather just throw a few squares of milk and a few squares of dark into a pan with some milk and I think the results would be similar.
On quite a few occassions we've flown to Dublin for under £1 each, so my advice would be keep an eye on Ryanair, and fly for a day in Dublin and get the real thing in one of their cafes.
I've used most of the free email services provided by different providers at one time or another and all of them have had bugs and problems and tried to get money out of you for the bug free versions. Microsoft with hotmail that had no storage space was flooded with spam and covered in adverts. And I found the offering from yahoo more confusing and more glitch filled than any program I have ever seen.
But when I got to university my eyes were opened to the wonders of the offering put forward by Google. Googlemail (then known as Gmail until the European courts got involved) is without a doubt the greatest free email system I have ever had the pleasurable experience of using. It has a very simple system for basic email but it also has more complex options to make it a very effective and streamlined email system.
There is an option to create tags and folders to store various emails in various groupings such as folders for your online bills from different companies or emails from specific people or on a specific topic etc. There are options for forwarding messages to other email addresses automatically, out of office messages, and pretty much every other option available to an outlook user and it has without a doubt the most sophisticated and effective spam filter of any email system I have ever seen.
This boxed set from ITV has brought to me one of the funniest britcoms I have ever seen.
Wooster, played by Hugh Laurie, is an aristocratic type young man who has more money than sense living in London in the "clinging to Victorian ideals" post world one climate which existed at that time. Living the high life, drinking and partying as only a young man with far too much money can.
Jeeves, played by Stephen Fry, is a valet (butler to those of us who, like me had never heard of a valet before) who comes into Wooster's employ in the first episode of the show, just after Wooster has been fined £5 for stealing a policeman's helmet, and has arrived home to recover from the night that resulted in his stealing the helmet, and the first thing Jeeves does for Wooster is to make him the worlds most effective hang over cure.
This is the general basic formula for any episode / storyline, something goes wrong / a problem arises or Wooster somehow gets himself into trouble and Jeeves comes to the rescue with some incredibly intricate and effective plan.
Usually the problems are somewhat ridiculous but taking the show with a pinch of salt it is no issue. However sometimes the issues which arise are so ridiculous I've had to turn them off. For example one of Wooster's aunts decides her husband should have something someone else has bought and orders Wooster to steal it from this man.
So while it is generally a hilarious show, it occasionally goes a bit too far over the line into the utterly ridiculous.