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Supermaz

Supermaz
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Member since: 10.02.2010

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    • More +
      13.04.2010 17:31
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      Excellent festival for the more mellow festival goer.

      I am a regular festival goer and a couple of years ago I was asked to go along and help out a friend who worked at the Wickerman Festival. I will be perfectly honest and say even I hadn't heard of it but I was glad she invited me along!

      ***Concept and Location***

      Awarded the Best Grssroots Festival Award in 2006, The Wickerman Festival takes place in July of every year in East Kirkcarswell Farm which is near Kirkcubright in the Scottish borders. It is a beautiful part of the country and the drive there, while a little confusing, is absolutely lovely.

      It markets itself as the alternative music festival focussing on many musical tastes including alternative rock, ska, punk, northern soul, dance and folk music and takes its name from the 1973 movie "The Wicker Mann" starring Edward Woodward and Christopher Lee. It may seem like a strange title for a music festival, however the area in which is it located was heavily used in the filming of the movie therefore the organisers thought it was an apt title.

      ***Music***

      As I mentioned there were a number of musical tastes on display at Wickerman. The 2009 line up included The Human League, Candi Staton (who was the highlight of the festival!), Idlewild, The Magic Numbers and a great DJ set from Hot Chip. During the 2008 festival, Annie Nightengale stole the show with an amazing DJ set while Bez and Shaun Ryder entertained us in the Hacienda tent.

      This isn't the festival if you are into hugely popular groups that are successful in the current market. This festival very much caters for alternative tastes and is also a great champion of unsigned acts of which there is a dedicated stage.

      ***Atmosphere***

      Wickerman is the ultimate family friendly festival. During my two visits to the festival I notice how relaxed the atmosphere was and the campsite had family friendly areas. I often saw families with small children flying kites or making picnics which all added to the fun and innocent nature of the festival. It also helped that the Scottish summer didn't let us down and we had beaming sunshine for most of the three days we were there.

      What also appealed to me was the hugely diverse range of festival goers. As I mentioned there were families with toddlers however there were also older (some much older!) couples, young couples, groups of friends like us etc. It really did cater for everyone I not once did I spot any trouble or anyone behaving badly. I have noticed recently that some of the other festivals I have attended that there were a lot of drunken and disorderly people causing trouble or tents being ruined and robbed. At Wickerman thankfully this is not something to worry about, however there is nothing wrong with being vigilant.

      There were those in fancy dress and those just looking for fun.

      The event culminates in the burning of a huge wickerman that is built at the side of the area. Every year he strikes a different pose and it really is an amazing site to see it burning at midnight on the last day of the festival. The first year I attended the burning ceremony included fire breathers and a sort of pagan ceremony while last year there was a great fireworks display. It is a very atmospheric way to end the festival.

      ***Facilities***

      The facilities at Wickerman have been some of the best I have witnessed at any music festival. While the portable toilets in the main arena are not the best, there are plenty of them and they don't seem to get into the same condition as they do at T in the Park for example.

      Meanwhile the campsite has great facilities and for £6 you can buy in advance a "down and dirty" pass which gets you access to the shower facilities which are excellently maintained considering it is a music festival. Another £6 pass also gets you access to the VIP toilets, which are a bit better than the portable ones (sinks with running water and proper flushable toilets!).

      The campsite is spacious and never seems to get that dirty which I think is a testament to those who attend the festival. They seem to take care of their surrounding.

      Inside the arena there is a well stocked campsite shop where you can buy extra blankets, batteries, toilet roll etc.

      Eating and drinking is also well catered for. There is a Pimms tent which sells lovely glasses of Pimms with Strawberry's although at £5 a pop it is not the cheapest treat on the block. There is a large spacious beer tent and tokens for this can be purchased from within the arena and if I remember correctly they were around £2.40 for two tokens which got you a pint of lager or a spirit.

      If you are feeling hungry, there are tons of caterers to choose from including Johnny Bagdad (my personal favourite) who does the most amazing lamb and couscous kebabs, the Hog Roast stall, Bratwurst, fruit, coffee, crepes, breakfast rolls, the list is endless.

      There are also the usual fairground attractions to keep you entertained if some of the music isn't taking your fancy.

      ***Prices***

      An adult weekend ticket with camping will set you back around £90 and this covers the Friday and Saturday nights. Or you can purchase just a Saturday ticket for £60 however there is no option to buy a ticket for just the Friday.

      Tickets for children aged 0-12 are free which is great if you have a family however children aged 13-15 must buy a concession ticket at £42.50 for the weekend.

      If you purchase your tickets through Skiddle at www.skiddle.com then you can get your tickets marginally cheaper however they are also available from Ticketmaster.

      ***Overall***

      This is just a flavour of the festival however if you co to www.thewickermanfestival.co.uk you can see the full line up, facilities, ticket and travel advice as well as a great gallery which you can see the fun of the festival from previous years.

      I thoroughly enjoyed my time at this festival and I am going again for the third year in a row. I know it doesn't attract the same headliners as Glastonbury and T In the Park, but in my opinion it is a much smaller and more family friendly festival and it a great opportunity to break your kids into the festival scene.

      It really is much more about the atmosphere and having some fun and for that reason I would highly recommend it.

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    • More +
      12.04.2010 14:00
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      Perfect for a mid-week short break

      I have just taken a short break to Newcastle and stayed in the County by Thistle following an online search for a cheap hotel deal.

      ***Location***
      The hotel is conveniently situated directly across from Newcastle train station which is excellent if you are travelling by train. No need for a taxi or pulling your luggage through the City centre!

      We travelled by car and found that once we have manoeuvred our way round the busy City centre, it was fairly easy to find the hotel. Access to its parking area was right next to the main entrance of the hotel which was very convenient. Having stayed in hotels where the parking is off site I thought this was great. It was also pretty reasonable at £10 per day (Premier Travel Inn was £16 per day).

      It is in a perfect location to visit the local nightlife with the Gate, Eldon Square and the Metro Area all within easy walking distance. We walked to all of these locations including St James Park, the Life Centre and China Town.

      ***First Impressions***
      Upon entering the reception we were greeted by some friendly staff. The reception was clean and bright and the staff were very helpful when we asked for directions or assistance.

      You can tell that this is a very old building as the lifts up to the room were pretty slow and there is a very grand staircase at the main entrance. When we were looking for our room I did think the hall ways were a little dark and the doorways were narrow but I suppose this was all down to the age of the building.

      ***Rooms***
      We didn't have the biggest of rooms but the bed was massive! Well I say bed, it was actually two queen size beds put together so the bar in the middle was a bit of a pain. However my partner and I had plenty of room to stretch out.

      There was only a small window that looked out onto the main road and the train station so the room was a little dark but there was a nice flat screen TV on the wall, two large mirrors and the bathroom was very clean and well lit. There was also an iron and ironing board in the wardrobe which was great as you usually need to phone reception for one.

      I would also be aware that the floor boards are extremely noisy and we could here the people in the adjoining and above rooms walking around very clearly.

      Overall the rooms were basic and clean which is just what you need. I think the hotel had recently been refurbished as everything looked quite new.

      ***Facilities***
      The hotel has the usual lounge, bar and restaurant which were nice and pleasant however we found them to be quite expensive and as we were only there a couple of days we thought it would be better to venture out of the hotel. We also noticed that the hotel bar closed at 11pm. We thought this was early as most hotels keep bars open for residents later but it would be useful to here if anyone has a different experience. You also have the option of using the leisure facilities at the local University I believe, however we didn't partake so couldn't comment on the quality.

      The main benefit is the location as there are tons of facilities outwith the hotel but right on your doorstep.

      ***Price***
      As I was shopping around for a cheap deal, we managed to secure a booking at www.hotels.com for £42 per night which was a lot cheaper than the nearest priced hotel at £62 per night. This and the parking made it a reasonably priced trip considering the excellent location and nice rooms.

      The normal room rate for a double is around £95 to £105 per night so I think we got a great deal!

      ***Overall***
      I would recommend a stay at this hotel (especially if you get as good a deal as we did). However, we stayed during the week and the area was quiet whereas we have head that at the weekend can be very noisy with large hen and stag groups so if you are looking for something quiet then maybe avoid at the weekends.

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    • PureHMV / Credit Card / 33 Readings / 31 Ratings
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      19.03.2010 12:39
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      Not bad if you are a regular shopper and are interested in exclusive memorabilia.

      Loyalty cards are an excellent way of getting back a little bonus from shops you regularly visit and it also keeps them sweet by bringing them back again and again.

      PureHMV is the bonus scheme being offered by the music store HMV and is its way of thanking their customers for their business.

      ***Purchasing the Card***

      Upon checkout at a recent visit to HMV, I was asked by the assistant if I had a loyalty card and if not would I like to purchase one. Normally I say no to these things unless it is somewhere I shop in very frequently, but as I use this store a lot at Christmas etc, then I thought maybe it would be worth it. Queue the rolling of eyes from my boyfriend waiting on me at the other side...

      I admit I was actually a little confused by the premise of this card. Basically I was told I would pay £3 up front for the card, but this was turned into points as soon as I registered the card online. Every time I shop in store, points would be added and I would receive 100 points for every £1 I spent. These could then be redeemed in the online PureHMV store. I was also told that I would receive 1000 bonus points when I register, so this and the £3 would give me 1300 points. Not too shabby eh?

      On the face of it, I thought this was a fairly good idea so I went for it. I was given a white credit card and leaflet outlining the registration process and that was it.

      ***Registering the Card***
      Registration of the card was pretty simple. All I had to do was log onto www.hmv.com/purehmv and follow the instructions. I would be credited with the bonus points and the £3 worth of purchase points and away I go.

      The instructions on the website were pretty clear and easy to follow, with all the usual details required. You simply entered the code on the card into the website. Once I had completed everything I was sent an email confirming my registration.

      I also had to enter the information from the receipt I had received in store to ensure I got my 300 points and also the points from whatever I had spent that day. There is a section on the website where you can register your points from transactions that you made without your card. You simply log the receipt ID and value of the transaction and it converts your cash into points. This is really useful if you forget your card as you don't need to take it back in store.

      My 1000 bonus points registered fine, as did the points for the items I purchased that day, but I received no points for the £3. I was a bit disgruntled but willing to let it go until my boyfriend pointed out that I paid £3 for the card and should be entitled to what I was promised. I agreed and called their customer service number. I was basically told there was little I could do about it if the receipt didn't register my purchase. They apologised but I wasn't offered any compensation or alternative.

      ***Bonus***

      Once I had registered and complained, all within about a half hour period, I decided to take a look and see how I could redeem my points, despite not having a great deal at that time.

      PureHMV offers you bonus and exclusive items that are not available in store. This includes signed photos of music and movie starts, framed music discs, exclusive tour posters and T Shirts, and other limited edition memorabilia. You can also exchange your points for experience packages such as football stadium tours.

      The website again is very clear to navigate and it categorises bonuses into point brackets, for example bonuses available for more than 50,000 points, 50,000 or less, 20,000 or less etc. You can chose from music, film and game bonuses.

      It really is a bit of a hit or miss whether or not there is anything that would suit your taste and there isn't a great deal to chose from. There is some mainstream memorabilia from Robbie Williams and Star Wars, but I felt as though some of the merchandise was a little out of date, for example Kung Fu Panda key rings or Cliff Richard prints (I never thought I would ever write a review with a reference to Cliff Richard in it!). However I suppose everyone is different and may find something they are looking for. Most of the half decent bonuses however require a significant amount of points, therefore if you are an occasional rather than a frequent shopper, it may take you a while to build up points.

      What I have noticed is you can down redeem your points for credit that is loaded onto your card. You can then shop in store and use the points towards your purchase. Credits come in £2, £5, £10, £20 and £50.

      ***Customer Service***

      I was a little disappointed in the service I was provided on the phone when I queried my points and subsequently I have forgotten my password to log into my account (Doh!) and after requesting a reminder by email, I am still waiting on my email with my password reminder almost 72 hours later. I know there are drawbacks to modern technology but this is a bit too long.

      ***Overall Value***

      I do object a little to paying for what is essentially a loyalty card when so many other retailers offer the same for free.

      However if you are willing to pay (or are gullible and end up being coerced into it like me), this card does offer some different options for customers and you may stumble across some quirky merchandise that you may like and are willing to build up your points for.

      I would strongly recommend looking at the PureHMV website before signing up, as you may think everything is not to your taste. Alternatively, you may just want to sign up for the credit bonus, and lets face it, built up over a year you may have quite a few pennies to help you with those Christmas presents.

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      • Kerplunk / Board Game / 20 Readings / 19 Ratings
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        18.03.2010 17:31
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        Kerplunk - one for the kid in us.

        There comes a time in your life when you reflect upon your childhood with fondness and remember all the weird and wonderful things you did. Those who are a bit younger than you, look at you with bemused pity when you try to describe how wonderful Knightrider was and what great fun it was to make a go cart out of old pram wheels and a crate.

        I had one of those moments recently when I looked back at my experiences with kerplunk.

        It is quite possibly one of the simplest and easiest concepts for a game ever invented but gave children endless hours of fun in the 70's and 80's. Up to 4 players can take part and it consists of a plastic tube which you spear with multi-coloured straws, upon which you drop marbles. Each person takes a turn to remove their coloured straw and if a marble falls to the tray at the bottom when they remove a straw, they must keep the marble. The person with the lowest number of marbles at the end wins. Simple! Well you would think...

        One of the rules of the game is, once you have touched a straw, that's the one you have to pull out, and I remember endless arguments with my friends screeching "you touched that one!"..."No, I didn't touch it, I wasn't near it!"...

        For such a simple game, it really did give us a great deal of fun, and feeling very nostalgic one day, one of my friends dusted off and old box and produced her kerplunk game she played as a child. It is when you try to play it as a grown up that you realise some strategic foresight is required to be good at this game, as well as steady hand that wont commit to a straw until you really want it to. Plus, it takes a good bit of time to set up, each straw needing to be individually inserted, and you wonder how on earth you had the patience and attention span as a child to set the thing up!

        Granted, as an adult, the game didn't seem quite as captivating and after a few minutes we were reaching for the wine and a DVD, but I must admit the little trip down memory lane was great.

        The game is still available from all your usual stockists so if you are feeling a little nostalgic then give it a go. You never know your kids might love it!

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        • Room 101 / Discussion / 21 Readings / 17 Ratings
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          18.03.2010 15:24
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          This discussion has been a great therapy session!

          I've stumbled across this discussion and I fear that once I start I might not stop. Do you every get the feeling you're turning into a grumpy old b....

          Ok, here goes:

          1. Aubergine - I have no idea why it was put on this planet. It is tasteless, slimy and generally pointless. Someone once made me aubergine lasagne and it was the biggest pile of mush I have ever encountered. Somebody please let me know if there is some revolutionary recipe for this bland vegetable.

          2. People who drop litter - This is a particular bugbear of mine, especially those who throw it out of car windows. Some people have a real lack of respect for their surrounding and take no pride in where they come from. They are quite happy to live in a rubbish dump and expect others to do so too. We don't have another planet in reserve so stop treating this one as though we do!

          3. People who don't vote then complain about the government - I think some people forget what societies have gone through and what suffering people have endured for their right to vote. Nevertheless we live in a democracy where we all have the right to chose who we vote for and whether or not we indeed vote. However I have an issue with people who complain endlessly about taxes, the state of the roads, the quality of their kids education or our role in foreign disputes and then reveal that they don't actually vote, some are not even registered. Regardless of what your politics are or whether or not you think voting is a waste of time, exercise your democratic right and then complain about the outcome. If you don't like what is going on, then at least try to do something about it.

          4. Shoppers - Why is it when people hit the high street or the local out of town shopping centre, they turn into aimless zombies with no sense of direction and no awareness of who or what is around them? I cannot count the number of times I've had my heels scraped by a pram pushing mother who hasn't been paying attention, or I've ran into the back of someone who stops dead in the middle of the street. Grrrrr....

          5. Disruptive cinema goers - People who talk through movies in the cinema should be ejected and barred! This also includes people who turn up late and hover about for ten minutes looking for a seat (see my review on going to the cinema), eat exceptionally loudly and put their feet up on the chair in front, some without shoes on!

          6. Innit - I mean what the hell is this all about? Innit! The culture of saying this at the end of every sentence is driving me round the bend. I'm Glaswegian so I'm no stickler for perfect articulation but Innit?

          7. Mean spirited people - I just hate people who are mean for no reason. A friend of mine refused to give me a spot of milk the other day cause it meant she wouldn't have enough for herself. It's a drop of milk! Not your life savings! I would give someone my last penny if they needed it more than me and I try to be kind and sharing, but some peoples downright mean attitude leaves a bitter taste in the mouth and is eroding our generous spirit. If someone buys you a drink, buy them one back. If someone has two tickets for a gig and asks you to go with them, offer them the price of their ticket. Don't say to someone "I'll buy the food for the train if you buy the tickets" when the tickets are 20 quid and you only buy two packets of crisps and a bottle of coke. Sorry this one is getting to me...

          And finally...

          8. Z list celebrities - why oh why are some people famous, just for the sake of it? I especially mean those who marry footballers and then end up with a perfume range and column in some trashy magazine or newspaper. There are people out there who have made real achievements so lets give them some recognition.

          That's all folks, but I have a feeling I might come back to this topic...

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          • Wedding Gifts / Discussion / 25 Readings / 24 Ratings
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            18.03.2010 13:07
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            Let people give you what they want and they may surprise you!

            My boyfriend and I are attending 6 (yes 6!) weddings this year and I have to say, the gift is probably going to be a bit of a sticking point.

            Firstly, I think asking for anything is a bit rude and I suppose this stems from my upbringing, with my parents always teaching me to be grateful for whatever I receive. I know that a gift is always given to a couple when they wed, but having attended a couple of weddings now in which the invitation stated "No boxed gifts", I think some people are taking it too far and it's bordering on cheek.

            I think it's acceptable, that if someone asks you want you would like as a gift, you give them your preference. However, automatically requesting money from people is an assumption too far. We are living in more difficult economic times and asking people for cash could put unnecessary pressure on people. If they give you cash, you immediately know how much they have given you. For example, if someone could only afford a gift of £20, they could buy you a nice little personal gift, however if you ask for cash, they may feel under pressure to give you more, especially if they know how much other people are giving you.

            I recently had a discussion with someone who claims it is completely unacceptable to give someone a wedding gift of less than £100, meanwhile, my boyfriend's football team mate married last year and the team decided everyone should put £50 in a card for them. I think this just adds to the pressure even more and when I expressed as such, I was told if I couldn't afford to give them a decent gift then I shouldn't go to the wedding. Nice...

            I do confess however, that as a guest at a wedding, I love wedding lists as you can chose whatever you can afford from the list with no pressure. For one of the many wedding we have to attend this year, the happy couple produced a list in which the most expensive gift was £25. If you wanted to spend more, you just added more to your list, otherwise they were perfectly happy if you just chose one or two items. Most of the items were little luxuries that they wouldn't normally buy for themselves as they had been living together for some time and didn't need all the traditional gifts that used to be given at weddings.

            I suppose this is generally the case now, and the culture of marriage has changed dramatically over the past 30 years. I know in some cultures, money is automatically given without any prompt from the bride and groom.

            I do think that people should be able to exercise some control over what they give someone as a gift and this discussion prompted me to have a look around the web to see what other people were saying on the matter. I found that there are all sorts of wedding guides on gift etiquette on the web which state that asking for money is rude and in fact any mention of gifts in the invitation is also not polite. Couples should state that they would be happy with your presence at their wedding not, please come and this is what you should bring us!

            Nevertheless it seems to be the done thing now, and we do live in a much more "me" orientated culture. If I ever choose to get married, I would just hope that I can celebrate the beginning of my marriage with those I love around me, rather than worry about how much mullah I can make out of it!

            Please forgive my old fashioned rant, and I really don't mean to have a go at anyone who chooses to do this, but I'm a get what you're given kind of girl and I will just be grateful that I am starting my new life with the person that I love.

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            • More +
              17.03.2010 13:46
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              Definitely worth a read

              Dean Koontz has been the master of suspense and horror for some time now, and I have been reading his novels for around 15 years. I was always gripped by the fear and anticipation that he built into his stories, however I noticed some of his more recent efforts were not gripping me as well as they used to. I wasn't sure if it was a change in my personal taste of a tiredness in the authors writing, but I decided to take a break from his stories and branch out a little.

              A friend bought me "Relentless" as a birthday gift and it gave me the perfect opportunity to let Mr Koontz and his weird and wonderful stories back into my life. Published in 2009 by Harper Collins, it is now available in paperback at most bookshops.

              Without going into too much detail of the plot, Relentless follows the life of successful writer Cubby Greenwhich and his family, wife Penny who is also a writer, and his son Milo, the 6 year old child prodigy, all of whom are accompanied by their faithful dog lassie.

              The novel is a first person narrative account of a few days in their lives during which Cubby and his family are relentlessly pursued by a crazed book reviewer who has taken a personal dislike to Cubby's recent novel and wishes to express his disdain in a terrifyingly homicidal manner.

              What unfolds is an excellent pursuit thriller full of twists and turns, leaving you wondering if there is anywhere safe they can run to or anyway in which they can survive. Koontz builds the tension very well and makes you believe that they have very little hope.

              It delves into the nature of the family, and its ability to protect and survive in any situation and I grew particularly fond of Cubby. Despite his clear lack of heroics or bravery in the past, Cubby strives to be the protector of his family and regrets the decisions he made that helped bring this reign of terror upon his family. He is fiercely supported by his Penny, who has a rod of iron running through her and provides most of the moments of attitude and strength.

              I found the moments of interaction between Cubby and Milo to bring a spot of humour into the story as the intelligence levels of his 6 year old son are clearly beyond Cubby's comprehension.

              Short, brisk chapters contribute to the fast paced nature of this novel and as it is in first person narrative, it is easy to get caught up in Cubby's anxiety and fear. He drops little hints as to what is coming ahead which makes you want to turn the pages even more. As his tale unfolds, he also exorcises some demons by reflecting upon his past and explaining some of the events that shaped him into the man he is today.

              Koontz characters are not flawless, and there are moments when you wonder what on earth they are doing and can see the danger coming, but this all adds to the enjoyment.

              This first foray back into the writings of Dean Koontz has reminded me why I read his stories in the first place. They are exciting, entertaining and ultimately draw you in to the lives of the characters. Relentless flows very well and draws to a very exciting, albeit slightly unbelievable conclusion. However this is what I love about his novels. He can blindside you with a twist at the very end that leaves you wondering what the hell happened, no matter how ridiculous or unbelievable it may be. Without giving it away, I do think that there are elements of the plot twist that could have been examined better earlier in the novel as despite being referred to throughout the story, the twist does seem as though it was thrown in at the last minute.

              Nevertheless, Relentless is a piece of entertaining escapism and I really do believe that Koontz is the master of suspense. He gets to the point of the story and grips you from the beginning and I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to join Cubby on a terrifying ride.

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            • More +
              16.03.2010 17:56
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              TGI's is tasty!

              Did you hear about the guy who got drunk eating Jack Daniels chicken wings? Nothing to do with the delicious JD coating, he had to many Hurricane cocktails...

              TGI Fridays is one of the those places that you know you will enjoy if you're looking for a little bit of atmosphere with your meal and cocktails. My local TGI's is in Glasgow but they are dotted all around the county waiting for you to sample their wares.

              ***How it looks***
              The concept of TGI's is similar to other American influenced restaurants and is clearly along the same lines as Planet Holywood and the Hard Rock Café. The walls are bedecked with music and movie memorabilia from the Rat Pack to Rick Astley, from Godzilla to the Godfather, its all there. I personally love the rock music references and I am also fond of the large Harley Davidson Motorcycle that greets you when you walk through the front door.

              The restaurant floor is filled with dark wood tables and chairs while the staff wander round in red and white striped shirts covered in badges. It s well lit without being overpowering and there is also usually some good but not too loud music on in the background.

              ***Food***
              No matter how good somewhere looks, the proof of an establishment's success is ultimately the food.

              Again, TGI's very much draws on the American diner influence and the menu clearly reflects this.

              There are a reasonable selection of starters including Loaded Potato Skins (£4.29), Mushroom Alfredo (£4.49) and my personal favourite the Jack Daniels Sesame Chicken Strips (£4.99). These are tender little chicken strips covered in a sweet and sticky Jack Daniels glaze which is very tasty. There are also a selection of chicken wings and appetizers to share.

              The main courses are naturally heavy in meat dishes, focussing on their love of the mighty steak. A New York Strip will set you back around £13.99 however you have a fair choice of accompaniments and a choice of 5 sauces for the side which is really good. TGI's is actually one of the few places I know that can properly cook a steak. Personally I cannot for the life of me understand why anyone would want a well done steak, but they do, and TGI's offer it up without cremating it. Unlike some restaurants, they know how to cook a rare steak. While some places serve up medium instead of rare, TGI's rare steak is succulent and melt in your mouth soft. Exactly how it should be.

              In addition to steaks you also have a selection of ribs, grills, burgers, chicken dishes, salads and pastas. Sandwiches are also on offer however at £8.99 for a grilled chicken sandwich, I think there are better value for money dishes on the menu. If you aren't a big meat eater, the Cajun-spiced vegetable Quesadilla is very tasty and is the same price as a sandwich while the Spicy Diablo Pasta (£7.99) is also pretty good.

              If you do venture into TGI's however I would stick to the steaks, grills and ribs. They really are very good at them.

              Desserts, if you can stomach one, are quite chocolate based with the chocolate fudge fixation being a personal favourite (£4.99). However they also do desserts to share if you are not ready for a whole one, and the dessert minis is a great way to sample. You can choose three or five mini desserts for £5.49 and £6.99 and while they aren't huge, they are pretty good and will take the edge off if you have a bit of a sweet tooth.

              ***Drinks***
              All the usual drinks are available but TGI's do a pretty fine selection of cocktails. All the traditional ones can be found including the Pina Colada, the Cosmopolitan and the Sex on the Beach, but they also have a great selection of more unusual cocktails including the Gremlin (Midori, Chambord, Vodka and citrus juice), the Barnamint Baileys (Oreo Cookies, Mint Liqueur, Baileys and Vanilla Ice Cream) or the Harlem Mugger (Rum, Tia Maria, Vodka, Gin, Champagne, Grand Marnier and citrus juice). Prices vary from £5.95 to around £10.

              Now I would not like to encourage drinking copious amounts of alcohol at all, but I would recommend giving some of them a try. Even if you don't want a sit down meal, you can enjoy a couple of drinks at the bar and bar snacks are available if you find yourself there longer than you expected!

              ***Atmosphere***
              TGI's always has a fun and warm atmosphere and while this review may sound as though it is geared towards the older, cocktail drinking crowd, it is also a great place for families. There is a good kids menu with dishes ranging from £2.99 to £4.99 and the kids also receive an activity pack to keep them entertained.

              I have visited TGI's on various occasions and it was a good night out for us as a couple and also when we were with a group of friends. I have also visited a number of their restaurants and the staff have always been attentive and friendly, although I am a bit sick of the old "hi my name is Lauren and I'll be your waitress for the evening..." shtick... Imported from America.

              I would recommend TGI's to anyone looking for a typical American style meal where you eat till you burst and enjoy a few cocktail to go with it. it is definitely not a budget restaurant and once you have a couple of courses and some drinks, it doesn't amount to a cheap night out, but I think every once and a while its worth a visit.

              Go take a bite and thanks for reading!

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                16.03.2010 16:35
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                Not recommended for those with fine hair. Doesnt do it any favours.

                Rather than go into great detail about the packaging and colour etc, I thought I would give you a personal review of this product as we all know when we pick up a bottle what it looks like and pretty much all of us can figure out how to open it. What I am interested in is does it really work?

                If you have read some of my reviews, you will have realised that I am not really one for trends or designer products. I usually go for special offers and float between brands rather than being habitual about a particular one.

                This is usually the case for shampoo too however I had found a brand that I found quite reliable and was using it for quite a while, when I came across a special offer for L'Oreal shampoo. The damage care repairing range was on a buy one get one free offer so I thought I would give it a go. At £3.49 for a 400ml bottle it wasn't the cheapest but I thought the offer was worth taking advantage of and as I believed L'Oreal was a reliable brand, I didn't have much to lose.

                I suppose it is important to put this review into perspective and explain my hair type as not everyone will have the same results as me.

                I am a regular straightener user with slightly longer than shoulder length hair. I also have quite fine hair that is prone to dryness at the ends and a little greasier at the roots. I need to wash my hair every day and the oils in my hair spread quickly due to this fineness and I am prone to some damage. I usually wake up in the morning with very limp hair that is impossible to style. I therefore need a shampoo that is gentle on my hair and I can use daily.

                The first thing I noticed about the shampoo was the smell. It was lovely. Very fruity and you could smell it for some time in the bathroom afterwards. It also lingered in your hair for quite a while after washing. Once I began to use it, I realised the texture/consistency of the shampoo was very good and the product felt silky as I massaged it through my hair. It lathered well and actually made my hair feel as though it had already been conditioned. The shampoo was easy to rinse from my hair and initially there appeared to be no residue. My hair had that squeaky clean feel.

                On the first say, two or three occasions, I really enjoyed using this shampoo and thought that I would definitely work my way through both bottles purchased. However I quickly realised that the more I used it, the limper my hair began to feel and once my hair was styled it was particularly lifeless. I began to notice a slight residue on my hair and while I cannot confirm that it could directly be attributed to the shampoo, I know it had never been present before. Furthermore, my hair seemed to be considerably more greasy the following day that it had used to be. Normally my hair can be a little fly away, but when I was using this shampoo I felt that it just lankily stuck to my head.

                I only condition my hair on two or three occasions per week, again due to how fine it is. Nevertheless I though I would try the corresponding conditioner, and as with the shampoo, it smelled and felt lovely, but I just could not shift this limpness and lifelessness that my hair was experiencing.

                My boyfriend even commented one morning: "that shampoo you bought makes my hair feel funny..." not a particularly insightful or technical assessment but valid nonetheless. Ultimately it is important how a shampoo makes you feel and if it delivers on its promise. This shampoo aims to repair and protect damaged hair. I cant honestly say whether or not this was true as I didn't use it for a prolonged period but in the few weeks I did use it, I did not notice any reversal of the (mostly self inflicted) damage my hair had incurred.

                Some time later I thought I would give it another go (well I did have another bottle in the bathroom cupboard) so I tried it again a few weeks later while on holiday but it didn't cope well with the Spanish water. Again my hair seemed very limp and greasy.

                I don't think that I would recommend this product to anyone with hair as fine as me. I have used other L'Oreal products and never had any real problems so maybe this just isn't the one for me but it would be useful to know how those with thicker hair have found this. Even at buy one get one free it wasn't really very good value for money and I have now reverted back to one of my old tried and tested brands.

                Thanks for reading.

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                • Glasgow / Archive General / 19 Readings / 19 Ratings
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                  15.03.2010 15:06
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                  Glasgow has it all, so come visit!

                  Ok, I admit it, I am bias. A Glasgow girl born and bread, I can't deny that I am in love with my home town, warts and all. But it wasn't until I took a group of German work colleagues on a wee trip around the City that I began to fully appreciate this Dear Green Place.

                  Put aside the weather and what you have on your hands is a City rich in culture, architecture, good food, buzzing bars and a music scene second to none. What did the German delegation want to see? A graveyard...

                  So off we trundled on a particularly grey, dismal Monday morning, leaving the modern buildings behind and entering the medieval part of the City, passing Provand's Lordship, which is the oldest house in Glasgow being built in 1471, and walking up to the impressive Glasgow Necropolis, the "Great Grey Rock".

                  I must confess, this was only my second or third visit to the Necropolis in my life, however this was the first time I understood just how impressive it was, and it took the look of awe on the faces of my German companions for it to penetrate. The resting place of over 50,000 people, you enter the Necropolis over a bridge and immediately you feel the bustle of the city fall away. Its Victorian mausoleums, statues and tombs make it an impressive place to visit, and the Glasgow Necropolis Heritage Trail is a 1 hour 45 minutes well spent .

                  It is one of the most significant cemeteries in Europe and attracts hundreds of tourists every year. Eating humble pie, I had to concede the Germans made a good choice of morning stroll.

                  We followed our trip around the Necropolis with lunch in Merchant City, again another old part of the City and now a hub of trendy bars and restaurants. Admittedly some are exceptionally overpriced however I decided to take them to Care Source, an understated little Café Bar located under St Andrews on the Square www.standrewsinthesquare.com

                  The menu is packed with glorious Scottish produce and to be fair I spend most of our visit there trying to explain to my German friends what rumbledethumps and haggis were (answers on a postcard!).

                  However I settled for salmon which was fresh and tasty while my friends took great pleasure in various Scottish wears including stovies, black pudding and lamb shank (mouth watering).

                  After lunch, and a few malt whiskeys, we headed to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and museum which is one of the most impressive places in Glasgow and situated in the trendy yet historic West End. It is overlooked by Glasgow University and it really is a lovely place to see. The gallery itself is beautiful and free! It hosts an amazing art and history collections from fine paintings to fossils, battle armour to ancient Egyptian artefacts.

                  It is easily accessible via bus or the underground and is only a short walk from Kelvinhall underground station. It is open Monday to Thursday and Saturday from 10am to 5pm and 11am to 5pm on a Friday and Sunday. One of the excellent things about art Galleries in Glasgow is that they are all free entry, however some special exhibitions, such as the recent Dr Who exhibition, do incur a charge. www.glasgowmuseums.com

                  Evening entertainment in Glasgow is varied and there are quiet and intimate as well as lively and loud places to keep you amused.

                  The West End offers an excellent selection of bars and restaurants with the lovely Ashton Lane providing some great eateries and bars. Many students and young professionals venture here on a Saturday night.

                  For the younger, livelier crowd, Sauchiehall Street has some good bars with Campus and Firewater both having late licences while the Garage Nightclub is always popular. Most young Glaswegians experience their first nights out in this club and as a result it has became a bit of a Glasgow institution.

                  Some excellent restaurants can be found in the Merchant City. My personal favourite is the City Merchant which specialises in game and seafood. It is a bit expensive, with a meal for two costing around £70-90, however the quality of the food is outstanding and it has a lovely cosy atmosphere. I took my German group there and they were very impressed at the freshness of the seafood and also the great beer!

                  The Italian Kitchen also serves high quality Italian cuisine (see my review) while Kool Ba and The Dhabba serve tasty Asian food. Have a look at he following website for a good overview of this area: http://www.merchantcityglasgow.com/home

                  Glasgow is renowned for its live entertainment and is a Unesco City of Music. When you are in town you will find live music available on most nights with the Glasgow Barrowlands being one of the Cities most famous venues, often cited by many bands to be one of the best live music venues in the world. Many local bars also have live music and you often stumble across a folk band when you least expect it.

                  Wanting to show my German counterparts the Glasgow hospitality, I took them to the Scotia Bar, one of the oldest pubs and Glasgow and in usual fashion, they were treated to an impromptu folk session from some men in the corner of the pub! This was then followed by a spot of gambling in the Riverboat Casino which is located on the banks of the River Clyde. My German friends commented on how amazing the river looks at night, with the bridges and banks illuminated. I must admit this was the first time I had really stopped to take a good look!

                  The following day they had some time to themselves and I pointed out some shopping hotspots for them. Glasgow is one of the biggest shopping Cities in the UK outside of London and a short walk around the City centre shows you why. Princes Square is located on Buchanan St and hosts some very upmarket stores as well as having some nice places to eat. For those looking for more of a high street level, then the Buchanan Galleries and the recently refurbished St Enoch centre have everything you need, including a newly opened Hamleys Toy Store. Glasgow really is a shopper's paradise.

                  Glasgow is just like any other major city. It has its problems but it has also developed considerably over the past ten years. The shopping, entertainment and restaurants are comparable with London or New York, while the history and architecture also bring that little bit more. Glasgow is now a very cultured city and my friend thoroughly enjoyed their time here. If you chose to visit I hope you do to.

                  Thanks for reading.

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                    12.03.2010 16:25
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                    My kinda town!

                    Despite being an avid traveller around mainland Spain, I had never been overly interested in visiting Lanzarote, however after a great review of Puerto Del Carmen from one of my friends I decided to give it a go, and I am glad I did! We travelled as a young(ish) couple and we thoroughly enjoyed our trip.

                    Puerto Del Carmen is the central resort on the Canary Island of Lanzarote and was once a small fishing village. It still has the lovely Old Town today and the resort stretches over 6km along the coast.

                    ***Climate***
                    The climate is excellent with mild temperatures in the winter which are pretty stable through out the year. I have visited in both March and at the end of May and on both occasions the average temperature was around 25 degrees. It is the perfect resort if you are not too keen on extreme heat but are looking for warm, dependable weather. I have heard it gets a little cooler in December however.

                    ***Getting there***
                    We flew from Glasgow and the flight time was 4 and a half hours so depending where you are in the UK, flight times are reasonable. Most, if not all major holiday companies have package deals to Lanzarote as standard.

                    When booking your trip, I would highly recommend opting out of the transfers from the airport to the resort. We were offered transfers at around £25 per person, however the resort is only a 10 or 15 minute drive at the most from Arrecife Airport and a taxi will only set you back around 20 or so Euros. Doing this will save you the price of a (cheap) meal!

                    Package holidays range from around £250 to £450 per person for 7 nights depending on the time of year and the rating of the accommodation. It is unlikely you will get much cheaper than this and you often don't see the same deals for here as you would for Gran Canaria or Tenerife.

                    ***Accommodation***
                    The accommodation in Puerto Del Carmen is basic, but reliable and pretty much of the same standard throughout. We stayed in the Aparthotel Puerto Del Carmen which is situated at the top of the Old Town on a main road that leads both into the Old Town and the new. It was slightly further out than some apartments but it was only a few minutes walk either way.

                    I would warn travellers with walking difficulties that Puerto Del Carmen is quite a hilly resort and most of the accommodation is set back a little from the beach so a hill up to your apartment is likely.

                    Our apartment complex was many low rise buildings, which is the case throughout the whole resort, situated around a reasonably sized (but exceptionally cold!) swimming pool. The apartment was basic but clean and functional and the maid service was daily which I thought was very good. The bar in the apartments was very basic and often not staffed but I think this was partly due to how quiet the complex was. It was March and the whole resort was quiet but not deserted. It was nice however having the pool area almost to yourself some mornings!

                    ***Things to Do***
                    I would recommend this resort to anyone who is looking for a relaxing week away in the sun with good food and nice bars. It isn't really the place to spend two weeks as you may get a bit bored (or maybe not!) and doesn't have the same party town antics of say Tenerife. This is probably one of the reasons why I like it so much and it was perfect for a young couple like us.

                    The main selling point of this resort for me was the food. I would advise taking a walk into the Old Town and having a meal at one of the restaurants near the old harbour. They are all of excellent quality and the fresh seafood was amazing. Sea bass, scallops, mussels, they are all in abundance so it really is the seafood lovers dream.

                    The meat and Paella dishes are also fabulous and if you're not keen on seafood there are plenty of other options on the menus. The restaurants in the Old Town are slightly more expensive than in the new town and we were around 60 euros for two courses and a couple of drinks. It's not excessive but not cheap either but it is worth it on one or two nights of your holiday. You can leave Puerto Del Carmen without savouring these delights. I would recommend taking a trip down to the harbour at sunset. Very romantic indeed.

                    The restaurants in the new town definitely cater more for the tourist, however there are some excellent grill restaurants that serve perfectly cooked steak and ribs. I would avoid the Mexican cantinas as they are no where near as good as the more traditional restaurants. As Puerto Del Carmen is a long resort that stretches along the beach, you can have a lovely wander along it the evening and choose for yourself.

                    Most of the nightlife is centred around the bars and they vary in size and liveliness! Some small clubs can be found along the east stretch of the resort and this is where the younger crowd can be found. Our favourite was a large open fronted bar called Route 66 that played cheesy pop and rock into the wee small hours.

                    The beach in Puerto Del Carmen is lovely and clean. It is very long and broad so you will always find space. Again, however I would warn you that it is down some rather steep steps and hills so be careful.

                    One of the best excursions would be the trip to the volcanoes. As with most of the Canary Islands, Lanzarote is volcanic and you can take an organised trip up into the volcanic mountains where they demonstrate how hot the earth below is, even only a few feet below! They also take you to the unbelievable volcanic pool with its luminous green colour and red sand it looks like something straight out of a science fiction movie. It is the perfect place to take some out of this world photographs.

                    You can also take a trip to La Geria which is a vineyard where they famously grow the grapes in the volcanic black earth. It is a really interesting place to visit and the wine isn't too bad either!

                    Fuertaventura, one of the other Canary Islands, is just a short boat trip away and the huge sand dunes of this island can be easily seen from Puerto Del Carmen on a clear day. it is one of the quietest of the Canaries and is lovely for a short escape away.

                    Overall I would thoroughly recommend a trip to Puerto Del Carmen. It really is a laid back resort where you have all the opportunities you would like to sunbathe, eat, drink and sight see. While it is a little more expensive than some other resorts in the Canaries, it really is worth it and a perfect holiday for couples and families.

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                      12.03.2010 13:15
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                      Great website for the occasional bargain

                      Magic Freebies is a website dedicated to providing you with discounts, vouchers and freebies for all manner of products and services.

                      I was directed to this website via moneysavingexpert.co.uk and found it very easy to register. Once you do, you will receive a very useful daily email which outlines all of their current available freebies and discounts. The email will provide you with some of their top ideas for the day, a selection of restaurant vouchers and 8 new freebies that have been added to the website.

                      The website itself is clear and not too confusing. I have found some similar websites to be very cluttered looking and full of adverts however magic freebies is a lot simpler. You can easily find the sections relating to money saving tips, new freebies that have been added, freebies available in the press and also an interesting section on how to make free donations to charity.

                      I often visit the restaurant vouchers section as there can be some really good deals, although some of them apply to London only. The website lists all the current available offers from some popular restaurants including Ask, La Tasca, Pizza Hut, Pizza Express, Yates and Chiquitos. While a lot of the offers are one's that are widely available, it's still good to have a look through as there may have been some you were not aware of.

                      The freebies side is also really useful. They provide you with a list of links that will take you to websites offering freebies, for example I recently clicked on the link for free Comfort fabric softner and it took me to their website, I registered my details and within a week I received 4 free pouches of one of their new ranges.

                      I have also received free make up samples, shampoo, cinema tickets for a £1 and free Sim cards with £5 credit which my teenage brother finds really useful.

                      The website will also point you in the direction of other non web based freebies, for example it will inform you that a daily newspaper is giving away free crisps or free make up when you buy a specific magazine. These are all really good tips that you might not have been previously aware of.

                      Overall I think this is a really useful website. It may not allow you to live off of the freebies on offer but there are some really good opportunities to save a little cash or try some new products for free. The restaurant vouchers are also really handy if you are looking for a night out on a budget.

                      The daily email is also really useful as you don't have to check the website all the time. The email gives you a concise overview of what is available that day and if something catches your eye then you can have a look at the website when you have the time. Simple!

                      The only warning I have is, most of the freebies require you to enter some personal information which is not something some people are comfortable with. For that reason I would only choose the freebies you are really interested in and that way you are limiting the amount of information about yourself that is floating around cyberspace.

                      Thanks for reading.

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                      • Dave Grohl / Music Album / 11 Readings / 10 Ratings
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                        11.03.2010 18:14
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                        Rock wouldnt be the same without him.

                        I think I was about 17 when I first heard Dave Grohls gravely yet melodic voice on My Hero just as the Foo Fighters second album "The Colour and The Shape" had been released. It was from that moment on I think I was well and truly hooked and took me on a musical adventure that spans from the late 80's through to the present day.

                        ***Early Days***

                        Dave Grohl is the epitome of the hard working rock star who came from the Washington hardcore punk scene to become a Grammy award winning front man with a solid place in the rock pantheon.

                        Grohl was fist thrown into the music scene as the drummer in the band Scream, who were a Washington based punk band, however his first foray into stardom could be attributed to his position behind the drums for the iconic Nirvana. Kurt Cobain saw Grohl perform and subsequently asked him to fill the vacant drummers' seat. He couldn't really say no and the rest they say is history.

                        For me Nirvana where a highly influential band, which I know is a statement that courts some controversy amongst some. However Nirvana were the perfect vehicle for young teenagers like me to express some of that built up teenage angst that had been brewing for some time and while I was aware of Grohl and his drumming talents, it took me some time to fully appreciate that I was witnessing the birth of a rock legend.

                        However the chaotic demise of Nirvana, primarily due to the suicide of Kurt Cobain in 1994, took Grohl out of the limelight for a while but never away from the music.

                        His hyperactive nature meant he continued to dabble in music, experimenting with other bands and proving he wasn't just a drummer by showing his prowess as a musician by entering the studio and laying down tracks in which he played every instrument and supplied the vocals.

                        ***Success with the Foo Fighters***
                        It was during this time he began to form the Foo Fighters, named after the nickname given to the strange shapes in the sky witness by US airforce pilots during WW2 (a UFO fascination of Grohls that continued when naming his record label Roswell).

                        For me, it was at this point that Grohl proved himself as a charismatic front man, who didn't take himself too seriously but was capable of creating some excellent rock songs.

                        As their career developed throughout the late 1990's and early 2000's, the Foo Fighters provided some amazing rock songs that I believe will define the sound of a generation. They mastered the melodic rock song with great rhythm, courtesy of Taylor Hawkins on drums. The Colour and The Shape (1997) produced some excellent rock songs including Everlong, Hey Johnny Park and the stadium lifting Monkey Wrench.

                        This album was followed by There is Nothing Left to Lose (1999) which gave us further anthemic offerings of Breakout (which can be heard on the Me, Myself and Irene soundtrack) and the excellent Learn to Fly, which produced one of the funniest music videos of the decade and featured the first of many collaborations with Jack Black.

                        One By One (2002) and In Your Honour (2005) followed suit, alongside some amazing stadium tours and festival appearances. Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace (2007) was their 6th studio album and despite some more critical reviews, still delivered some brilliant songs including the chart hit The Pretender, which in a way invigorated their sound and introduced it to a younger generation.

                        Having seen the band live on numerous occasions during this period, I was blown away with Grohl's infectious energy and enthusiasm for his craft. Despite all the hard work and determination he still looked like a young guy jamming with his mates in his parent garage and the atmosphere was always electric. As an avid follower of rock bands, I really think the Foo Foghters have taken over as the best stadium band around. They have taken up the mantle once held by the likes of Queen and Bon Jovi and taken it into the 21st Century.

                        ***Side Projects***
                        I've heard Grohl being described as the hardest working man in Rock on many occasions and I quite believe it.

                        During his earlier career, Grohl dabbled in numerous projects, including recording the soundtrack for the 1994 movie Back Beat and composing the music for the 1997 movie Touch.

                        In recent years however Grohl has continued his collaboration with other bands, featuring as a drummer for Queens of the Stoneage and also playing the devil in Tenacious D movie The Pick of Destiny.

                        His current collaboration is the new supergroup Them Crooked Vultures where he again collaborates with Josh Homme of Queens of the Stoneage but also John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin, a chance to play with one of his idols no less. For this project, much to the delight of many fans, including me, he has stepped behind the drums to deliver that now unmistakeable and ferocious sound.

                        Having released their debut album, Grohl is now touring with TCV to promote their sound which is a step away from his grunge beginnings and is heavier and more rock/blues inspired. It is definitely a more experimental sound for Grohl and should appeal to the fans a lot more than the general public.

                        ***Future***
                        If all that isn't enough, Grohl has now confirmed that the Foo Fighters will be stepping back into the studio to record their 7th, and as of yet untitled, studio album. He has had a break from the Foo Fighters for two years now, but before he even winds up the promotion of TCV's he has something else lined up. For me, it is especially exciting news as it means another tour will follow and I have no doubt that Grohl will continue to be the exceptional front man he has always been and will go down in history as a rock legend.

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                        • Valentine's Day / Discussion / 16 Readings / 15 Ratings
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                          11.03.2010 16:59
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                          tell someone you love them, but not just today.

                          Despite spending most of my adult life in a relationship, I have never been the biggest fan of Valentines Day, however a little soft spot did appear this year for the manufactured holiday, but I think it was more to do with the person I'm with, rather than pressure from Hallmark to buy a card.

                          Valentines Day is the holiday primarily marketed at those who want to show the person they are with, how much they really love them and do so through some overblown romantic gesture. The shops prepare for this day almost immediately after the holly and tinsel have been taken down on the high street and the world turns all pink, red and fluffy.

                          Like I said, I was never a huge fan of this holiday as it usually consisted of a card from ex-partner and a meal in some restaurant which served some set menu nonsense that was overpriced, poor quality and with shoddy service. All around you there were two categories of couple. Those who were smitten and stared lovingly into each others eyes, and those who were clearly only out together due to the fact it was Valentines Day and were evidently not that bothered about each other at all. All in all I pretty much hated that time of year.

                          I am now with a wonderful guy who I love deeply but one thing that really annoys me is the expectations of those around me. For the past 4 Valentines Days, I am regularly asked "oh do you think he will pop the question?" or "Maybe you'll get a diamond for Valentines Day!!!" What a load of nonsense. If he is going to do it I know it will be in the most spontaneous fashion and not when he's expected to.

                          In my opinion, Valentines Day is a card companies dream, giving some business during the quiet period from Christmas and Easter (and I'm sure Easter doesn't generate huge sales does it?).

                          Another reason why I'm not so keen on this holiday is the pressure it puts on young people. When I was at school, primary school I might add, the teacher used to ask "So how many Valentines cards did everyone get?" undoubtedly there was some wee poor soul who didn't get one or got one from their mum and subsequently had the proverbial ripped right out of them. Yes, it was usually me. But looking back I realise how cruel that was to do that to kids. It continued through High School when there was regularly a competition to see who got the most cards and it was always the most popular girl and guy in the school who left everyone trailing behind. Not that I'm bitter...

                          Well actually I'm not because this year I realised what it was all about. My boyfriend and I both have a similar opinion and agreed to exchange cards and have a nice romantic meal at home. He did however cheat a little and bought me some beautiful flowers. We had a lovely day, relaxed at home, had a lovely meal in the evening and talked a load of gibberish over a bottle of wine (or two).

                          Sharing a lovely day together meant so much more to me than paying for over-priced and poorly cooked food. People lead such busy lives now and catching up with a loved one is all the more important. But I also feel that you should show someone you love how you feel everyday, no matter how small, instead of waiting until the one day of the year when you are supposed to. Every moment is precious so make them count, not just on Valentines Day.

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                          • Event Horizon (DVD) / DVD / 13 Readings / 12 Ratings
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                            11.03.2010 13:58
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                            Moral of the story is, dont investigate an abandoned space ship if asked to...

                            Warning, potential plot spoiler!

                            I first saw Event Horizon in the cinema when it was released in 1997 however I recently watched the DVD for the first time in many years and had forgotten what a great movie this was.

                            Directed by Paul W.S Anderson, of Resident Evil and Alien Vs Predator fame and while it was number one at the UK box office upon release it didn't exactly set it alight and was more of a DVD success. The premise of the movie is simple, the year is 2047 and 7 years after one of the worst space disasters in history in which the exploration ship the Event Horizon vanished without a trace, with the ship and crew never to be seen again. Having received a garbled and particularly unnerving recorded distress signal from what appears to be the missing ship in orbit around Neptune, the rescue ship Lewis & Clark is sent to investigate, rescue and recover what it can.

                            On board is the engineer/designer of the Event Horizon, Dr William Weir (Sam Neil) who has been sent to inform the crew, led by Captain Miller (Lawrence Fishburne) of the true purpose of the Event Horizon, to create a black hole in space and travel to the far reaches or the galaxy, all information that was withheld from the public at the time.

                            The Event Horizon has clearly returned from wherever it went and what follows are the crew's efforts to recover what it can and establish what really happened on board the ship. It becomes clear when they decipher the distress signal and identify the Latin ravings of the Event Horizon Captain that all was not well aboard the ship.

                            It is at this point in the movie, the real terror kicks in, when the crew realise there isn't much to salvage and the crew of the Event Horizon seemed to have destroyed themselves in gruesome fashion. Forced to board the ship following an accident on the Lewis and Clark, the crew are isolated and confused. One by one the events take their toll on the recue mission and each crew member starts to hallucinate, gripped with the fear of not fully knowing what had previously happened on board. It soon become clear that the Event Horizon has been somewhere we could never imagine and brought back a force so sinister it is hard to contemplate.

                            There really are moments of pure terror in this movie which are more psychological than anything else. It is very easy to make someone jump during a movie, just make a loud noise or have a cat jump out in front of someone, but to truly make you feel unnerved by what you are watching is quite difficult.

                            This film pulls off the psychological fear very well and the flashbacks to what previously happened on board the Event Horizon are terrifying. Also, watching the mental deterioration of those on board this ship is very sinister indeed.

                            It isn't all serious however and there are moments of classic cheeseyness (please excuse the made up word!). They refer to Engineer Cooper as the "Funky Spaceman" while Captain Millers recollections of losing men in previous expeditions could have came straight out of Rambo.

                            Furthermore, the influences from previous science fiction movies are clear with moments that parallel, of not completely copy Alien and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

                            The performances from the cast are reasonable however Sean Pertwee as Smith and Kathleen Quinlan as Peters are probably the most solid. Sometimes you do get the feeling that Sam Neil and Lawrence Fishburne are wondering what the heck they are doing there but as long as you aren't looking for Oscar winning performances, this shouldn't bother you too much.

                            If you like sci-fi, plenty of gore and some psychological suspense with some naff lines thrown in then this if definitely the movie for you. If you don't have high expectations, you might find that it will actually scare the pants off you.

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