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Member since: 11.07.2010

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    • The Sun / Magazine / Newspaper / 11 Readings / 11 Ratings
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      19.05.2011 04:06
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      Give it a chance

      It's probably renouned as the trashiest, cheapest or whatever else newspaper out there, but people are obviously out there buying it so it has its appeal. It's the only newspaper I ever buy because it makes easy reading, can be amusing, presents the news in an (albeit watered-down) easily absorbed format and has the best problems page around! By comparison, my local paper consists of a small handful of mediocre news for a handsome price, and the tabloids are filled with stories that can't hold my attention as well as puzzles that are beyond my capabilities. As a bonus I know I can hand over the tiny amount of between 20p-30p (it fluctuates) and be occupied for an hour or two depending on the content of the day.

      The headline is usually in-keeping with the other headlines of the day, though The Sun will usually have put a more comic spin on it. However it's also common on the slower news days for a celeb to be the focus of the headline. If there is a news type headline, there will almost certainly be some celeb content passed off as news stories (with varying degrees of interest). Inside there is the weather and lottery numbers, and I'm sure everyone is familiar with what is on page 3! What I really like about The Sun is that the news stories throughout the paper are accommpanied by little news stories from around the world, some of these can be hilarious! There is a 4 page spread on various TV stories (TVBiz) and also a celeb pullout called Bizzare. Also included is a TV guide, problems page, cartoons, puzzles and a fairly large sports section at the back. Unfortunately sport is where I turn off and don't have a copy to hand so can't provide any more depth.

      Every day there is a weekly page by a recognised name, my favourites are by Jane Moore and Kelvin MacKenzie. This is essentially a mini-newspaper written by that person, it will have a headline story, and lots of little smaller stories around the page on different stories.

      So yes I'll continue to buy a copy if I pass a newsagent, read it in public places, and ask for it as my morning newspaper when I stay at a hotel.

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    • Woodpecker Cider / Beer / Cider / 25 Readings / 24 Ratings
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      08.04.2011 22:40
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      *clack* *glug, glug, glug, glug* Ahh!

      I love Woodpecker! In terms of alcoholic drinks in this country it seems everything has to be dry, dry, or at a stretch medium-dry otherwise it's frowned upon, which is a shame for me because I like sweet drinks. Luckily there is Woodpecker, a nice sweet golden cider that's very light and easy to drink. It's not too sweet, and I personally could stand it to be sweeter, but is a lot sweeter than say, Strongbow. The alcoholic content (ABV) is 3.8%, which is one of the lowest I know, even lower than the rather weak stout Guinness. This means it's easier to slurp it down quicker, but please don't think that it means you won't get drunk from it... you will! It also makes me very sleepy compared to other ciders, maybe it's just a personal thing but it's enough confirmation for me that the legal driving alcohol limit should be nil, and even the legal amount could have me dozing off, so please bare this in mind.

      Woodpecker is made by Bulmers, which in turn is owned by Heineken. It comes in cans, draught or glass and plastic bottles. My personal favourite is draught because there is nothing better than a freshly pulled pint, but otherwise the cans are fine if you want to enjoy it at home - as I am right now! A 4 pack of 500ml cans is very well priced at about £3-£3-50 depending where you buy it. I would ideally like to buy the glass bottles to drink at home but these are hard to locate and I have only ever found them available to suppliers on contract, such as the restaurant I run at the college I work at. Cider in a can is personally never a good idea in my opinion as I think it damages the taste slightly, but pouring it out into a pint glass makes a huge difference and is no less enjoyable. 2 Litre bottles are also produced, but I'd definitely not recommend these, it will go flat very quickly, and encourage you to drink more than you actually want. If you have self restraint like I don't, you can buy large 24 packs of Woodpecker cans online which works out at usually good value and saves you the hassle and possible embarrassing looks of loading multiple packs of cider into your car boot!

      It has recently been rebranded, previously they were all silver cans with very uninspiring text simply saying Woodpecker and not actually having anything to do with a Woodpecker. Now with the re-brand they have done the obvious and included a very pretty drawn Woodpecker on the label, as well as making the background a much more warming red, inkeeping with the warming nature of the drink I feel.

      I don't think Woodpecker or any other cider is designed to accompany meals like wine does, though I have discovered it goes well with greasy foods as it cuts through the oil and gets rid of the greasiness. Fish and chips is a good example, and as fish and chips is a country pub classic, what better way to enjoy a Saturday afternoon with a nice big plate of fish, chips, peas and a nice pint of Woodpecker?

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      03.04.2011 01:37
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      If you have the money, then it's worth it.

      I originally had what was essentially a plastic version of this same product but the handle saw fit to snap off, and as they now make a metal version I have a feeling I wasn't the only one who it happend to. I bought this one for about £25 at Lakeland where I buy many of my kitchen gadgets. Typically, their products are expensive but worth it if you can afford it. Farringdon is a name I had never heard of and didn't know it was branded as such either until I found it on here, though there is hardly a competitive market of potato ricers out there so I suppose the brand isn't all that important. I bought it because I personally cannot stand lumpy mash, just one lump makes me gag, so I usually make it myself to ensure it isn't lumpy and working the good old fashioned potato masher gets tiring very quickly! My wife also shouts at me if I use Aunt Bessies so that option is out too.

      This gadget is completely non-essential and not especially fun to use, but does make things a lot easier when it comes to big meals when all the family descend into your house for dinner. It's very big and hefty, probably about 12" long and nothing to look at. It's a simple design, made up of a handle with a large movable circle press attached to a ricing cup with a handle. The cup is very large so a whole bowl of potatoes can be riced very quickly. The force needed to rice some of the things mean it needs to be sturdy and hardwearing and it has looked after itself well; there's no signs of rust or breakage anywhere. It has a hanging hook which is pretty silly because it's far too big to hang in any normal kitchen.

      Don't be fooled by the title, this doesn't have anything to do with rice, instead it turns food into rice like pieces when pushed through. The idea behind it is that it's much easier to press them through here rather than going crazy for long periods of time with the traditional masher, and as well as being easier it also produces a more pleasant outcome. Typically I use this for mashed potato and swede, but I'm sure there's plenty of other possibilities and could be useful for making foods easier for kids to take in. First boil whatever you are using as usual, they will need to be cut up into medium size pieces so you can fit plenty of them in at a time. Then once they are done, slot a disc in then spoon a few pieces into the cup. Then, using considerable force simply pull the handle down to squeeze the riced food out of the bottom. It usually makes a rather satisfying squelching sound as they are pushed through, and as this doesn't involve anything dangerous ricing the vegetables could be a good way to involve the kids with the cooking, though you will probably have to help them out with the pressing. Once the food has been riced you just need to add the milk, salt or butter as appropriate and stir it, which thanks to the ricing couldn't be easier. If you are using it to make mashed potato, it will be as light as air. It's quite a messy process, bits of squashed veg accumulates on and under the pressing circle and regularly needs to be collected and pressed again, but it's no real problem.

      As is mentioned both in the title on here and when I bought it, it has three changable metal discs. These have different size holes but honestly I don't see the point. Once everything has gone through the ricer, it all gets mashed up anyway so can't see the relevance in pressing it through slightly smaller or slightly bigger holes. For this reason, I only ever use the medium size disc and find it fine.

      In all, I love my kitchen gadgets but this definitely isn't a fun one, but it's definitely a useful one and makes lovely mash. If you have some money spare, I'd recommend you buy one.

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      • Challenge TV / TV Channel / 16 Readings / 15 Ratings
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        27.03.2011 01:24
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        Channel 46 - now!

        I had known about the existence of Challenge for a long time, ever since it had that square red logo. However my lack of cable or Sky subscription meant I could never watch it. I got a pleasant surprise in March when I suddenly found Challenge sitting at number 46! Sky has had a shakeup of their channels and have bought a group of channels owned by Virgin, including Bravo, Channel One and indeed Challenge. Sky are shaking these channels up too and have gotten rid of Channel One and are starting to move a few of the programmes over to Challenge. Challenge was then given the Freeview slot that Channel One occupied, increasing it's audience hugely.

        It's similar to a shopping channel in that you can easily leave it on all day, but you can miss it for any amount of time and can simply tune back in at will. This is because it simply shows non-stop repeats of old family entertainment - namely very old quiz shows. Recently, new episodes of TNA Wrestling have snuck onto the line up. Challenge favourites include Family Fortunes, Catchphrase, Supermarket Sweep, Wheel of Fortune, The Crystal Maze and Ninja Warrior, all of which I can happily watch whenever I'm stuck for viewing. Since the channel came to Freeview it has maintained the same weekday line up, with only the weekend line up being different - usually consisting of repeats of programmes shown during the week.

        Although it's not enough to put me off, Sky are completely destroying Challenge with their blatant and excessive attempts to get you to sign up with them. My wife likened Challenge to a 24-hour advert channel for Sky with quizzes in between! Every ad-break in the programmes will usually advertise 3 or 4 programmes only available on paid for Sky channels, then the usual adverts. Only recently since the TNA wrestling started have they actually promoted other programmes on Challenge. Even worse, between programmes they often show adverts that last nearly 5 minutes, a box office programme which is a disguised advert for Sky Box Office, to compilation clips of programmes like Got to Dance conveniently only available on Sky1. It's ridiculous at times. So, if anyone from Sky is reading this, I'd like to make it known that I will NOT be signing up with you!

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        26.03.2011 19:27
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        Go with an open mind

        My Mam and Sister regularly visit the garden centre next to this pub regularly. They decided on trying out The Badger and most of the family came, all 8 of us. I've now been twice, and unfortunately think that unless I want to go by myself I will be not be visiting again. 'The Badger' is part of the Vintage Inns chain, it is a very large traditional pub near to Newcastle Airport. It is on the same site as a huge garden centre - Dobbies - so after a morning there this makes the perfect place to have lunch afterwards. Unless you want to traipse across fields or live in some of the houses nearby you will have to get there by car. Both Dobbies and The Badger have their own free, large car parks so no problems here.

        On to the food, first time I ordered Fish and Chips from the Country Pub Classics menu for £7.95. I was disappointed slightly by this because it was served with the skin on, and when having battered fish I always like it if this is removed. I don't actually know what fish it was, it could have been Cod, Haddock, Pollock or some other similar tasting white fish, the menu didn't actually say. The menu described the portion as a whale of a fish and they didn't disappoint, it was massive. The serving of 'seasoned chips' (ie chips with salt and pepper added) was just the right size and the chips were small and like fries, the kind that you can eat 3 or 4 of at once, good for me as that's how I like them but I suspect most people probably prefer thick cut chips with fish. The skin wasn't really their problem, I should have mentioned it beforehand when ordering as I know it's commonplace in many places. What was disappointing was the small lump of mushy peas, which was dried up and had formed a crust even when it arrived, luckily I didn't want them anyway!

        Second time my food was much more enjoyable. I this time opted for the Homemade Fishcakes again from the Country Pub Classics menu. Two were presented and both were very large with delicious flakes of red salmon and chopped up pieces of broccoli head. They could have done with more pieces of salmon though as there was a lot of potato filling, but regardless they still tasted very nice and were very 'salmon-ey' in taste. The batter was the same as that of the Fish and Chips I had the time before so this shows that they do make them themselves. They were accommpanied with a bowl of seasoned chips and a nice dressed salad. The chips were burned and were a let down, but the taste of the fish cakes made up for this in my eyes. As well as the usual the salad had pieces of lemon, lettuce and was dressed with vinagrette.

        So although I enjoyed the second meal a lot more, the same can't be said for my family and their meals. The vegetables served with my Dad's pork belly had clearly been re-heated over and over and he said the taste reflected this and left most of them. My Auntie said that her Scampi was cold and the chips were cooked thoroughly, and my cousin's Lancashire Hot Pot appeared to be more grissle than good quality meat. My sister who is vegan for poorly catered for in terms of options and the menus didn't have any markers for this either, only 'V' symbols to highlight the few vegetarian options.

        The service was very good and attentive on our first visit, our orders were taken with ease despite us moving the tables around to allow us to all sit together. The waiting-cum-bar staff were all pleasant and made conversation as well as checking if our meals were satisfactory. Dirty plates were also cleared promptly.

        Second time around it left a lot to be desired. We had to order at the bar since no one came to take the order. Then again to the bar to order some drinks, these never came and we had to ask for them again when the food arrived. When the drinks did come, the bases of the glasses were boiling hot so they had clearly came straight from the glasswasher to the pumps. A 5 second blast under the tap would easily fix this instead of putting cold drinks into boiling glasses. Once the meals were finished, we asked for some ice cream, which again never materialised. Both times when this happened was when we asked the same blonde waitress, so she must just listen to orders and then not bother to do anything about them. We had to ask for the ice cream again, and it turned out the guy who eventually delivered it was either a supervisor or manager so we explained about the 'imaginary' food orders. He was very young and not wearing anything different so not easy to spot, but then again I'm 24 and a college lecturer so I won't bring age into it! To be fair, he didn't charge us for the hot drinks we ordered at the end as a way of apology.

        Saying all of the above, I would still like to go again, but I don't think anyone will want to come with me. My advice is to give it a try, but go with an open mind and don't be prepared for it to be perfect as it looks like it can easily go wrong.

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          26.03.2011 16:03
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          Worth a read!

          Normally I'm definitely not what would be described as an avid reader, my attention span is quite short so it's hard to devote myself to a book so I rarely buy them. However after watching the related TV show I realised it was based on a book written anonymously by someone in the industry and put into book form by an authour, I thought it was something I would be able to stick with - and it was! It may appeal more to me than others however as I have worked in the industry since a young age and my job now is teaching Hospitality at a college. If you don't either have a connection to the industry, or don't stay in a lot of hotels this book might not interest you as much. It certainly interested me though, I was hooked!

          'Hotel Babylon' the TV series is very sensationalised and completely made up, getting to the point that I couldn't watch the 4th series because it had gotten so ridiculous, so don't write the book off if you didn't like the series. The content of the book is true, it is the experiences of 10 years of work in a hotel combined into 1 non-stop day, as told from the Deputy Manager's point of view. This 352 page book focuses on the staff and what they get up to in a fictional 5 Star Hotel, called Hotel Babylon. The real hotel which it is based on isn't revealed unfortunately. Anonymous provides the facts and Imogen Edwards-Jones turns it into novel form.

          As the book follows one imaginary day, the books chapters are time slots, beginning at 7am-8am and finishing a day later at the end of the novel at 6am-7am. This book is fairly easy to review since it doesn't really have a plot to follow, or an ending to ruin, the entire book is simply one thing after another which I think is why I liked it as this makes it easy to follow. Some examples I can recall of the things encountered in the book include an old lady return guest who dies at the hotel and the staff all feel sorrow for her, despite always resenting her as she only ever tipped 10p, the lengths guests go to in order to avoid paying for a bar of chocolate or a miniature bottle of spirits, and recounts on which nationalities provide the best and worst tips!

          Very little of the book is actually positive, it's mostly very grim; staff steal things, everyone is overworked, immigration is suspicious and the guests don't make things any easier either. However with all the things that go wrong with the running of the hotel along the way, guests are happy and pay their bills. This leads me to think that which hotel it actually is is immaterial since it could well be happening at every one of the top hotels in London. It will be very eye opening if you aren't used to large hotels, as everything down to the resentment the staff feel towards guests (who come down to talk to them in the night for example) is included, but as long as the staff don't make it known they feel this way, it's still 5 Star service, right?

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          25.03.2011 16:34
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          Try and find an alternative

          Having been plagued with eczema all my life, I feel I've tried every cream there is out there. This was a new one so was eager to try it, hoping it would finally be the revolutionary one that I was after. After researching I bought a large dispenser online, intending to get it added to my regular prescription if it was successful. My eczema causes me to have severely dry skin, which gets itchy, sore, cracked, then infected. To help it I normally use Diprobase as my standard moisturiser which I apply daily, but the reason I want to try other creams is that it sinks in' to dry skin very quickly, so if starting on my face, by the time I'd down to my feet my face could be dry and flaking again. Normally the only alternative to this is using a greasy ointment moisturiser, these do continue to moisturise the skin but have a horrible sticky, greasy feeling and usually a bad smell that means using it isn't an attractive option. I hoped Doublebase would be the 'missing link' between the two.

          There is a variety of 'Doublebase' products out there, as well as being available in many sizes. Options include a shower gel, a bath additive and a cream. I bought a large 500g pump of the gel cream. This cost around £10 + delivery and I bought it from an online pharmacy through Amazon. The gel pump is made a clear see through plastic which was slightly surprising as the gel is horrible to look at! I likened it to some sort of gelatinous creature from a horror movie as it rolled around inside the container like a horrible sticky blob when moved, so to me it definitely wasn't something that you want to put on your skin, but I was still prepared to use it to see if it worked. As it has this bizarre texture, it can make it hard to actually get the cream to come out of the pump, so in this respect it would probably be worth buying a few smaller tubes instead rather than the large dispenser to make life easier when applying it. At times I could be using it, then suddenly it would completely stop producing anything, and needed a lot of shaking up to break up the blob and make the cream eventually start working again, which can be really annoying.

          Another important factor to me and something that other eczema sufferers will agree with is the smell, there are some pretty foul smelling creams out there. When you have to cover yourself in the stuff daily you don't want people wondering what that strange smell is whenever you go near to them. Doublebase passes this test as it smells alright, obviously it's not fragranced but smells much like what you would hope of a moisturiser and is definitely 'socially acceptable'. The texture is also just that of a standard moisturiser, it isn't greasy and is smooth, but also very, very thin which wasn't what I wanted it to be at all as a thin moisturiser just sinks straight in to dry skin.

          So quite a few gripes there, but the most important thing is what it actually does for my skin, and unfortunately it's a let down in this way too. I read a lot about it before buying, both reviews and official information and based on them it seemed to be just what I was after, a cream that stayed on the skin keeping it moisturised without being thick and greasy. However, it was almost no different to my usual moisturiser, and just allowed my skin to dry up again. The only difference being that it left a sort of thin moist layer on the skin for a very short time after, but this didn't actually moisturise the skin and wasn't apparent unless I actually touched the skin where I had applied the cream. As the gel pump only lasted just over a week and a half and I can get around 3 weeks from one Diprobase pump of the same capacity I decided not to buy another and have switched back to Diprobase and continue to look for that missing link.

          I live in hope!

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            20.03.2011 23:05
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            For the price you can't go wrong with giving it a try.

            Tesco seem to be the only supermarket to produce a carton of simple 'Breakfast Juice', disappointingly the other big names haven't followed suit and created their own version which is a shame as I like this and Tesco isn't one of my favourites. As per most of my other reviews I can't really remember exactly what I paid for this, though it was only I think around 60p at most - it is the same price they charge for their Tesco Value cartons of normal Apple, Orange Juice etc. My local Tesco is very small and lacking in most of the things I want when I go there, but they always have a constant stock of this.

            This juice only comes in a Tesco Value version, in a not very stylish looking Tesco Value branded carton, complete with the usual stripes and a simple picture. Only a 1 Litre size is available, and it comes in one of those 'tear off' affairs which I find annoying and like to avoid where possible. They now perforate the outlined part to tear off but I still can't manage to open it with dignity so usually just go straight for the scissors, the downside to this cheap style of packaging is that you can't properly seal it, if you drop it or it falls out the fridge, that's the end of it. It is clearly branded in large white letters than it is Breakfast Juice so you shouldn't have any trouble spotting it, though what actually constitutes the name isn't revealed unless you read the small ingredients text on the back.

            It is essentially Orange Juice with a smidge of Grapefruit Juice, a 8½:1½ ratio of Orange to Grapefruit to be precise, however that smidge is enough to make a difference to the taste. It is still made from concentrate and is smooth so there are no bits, which is good for me because I can't stomach drinks with floaters and what not in them. As with other fruit juices it forms one of your 5 fruit/veg a day. The nutritional information given is for a 250ml serving, and the carton advises to drink it within 4 days of opening so that works out nicely. I like orange juice, each person will taste everything differently, but to me it has a slight 'edge' to every mouthful that gets stronger and harder to bear with every taste, meaning I can't usually drink more than a glass in a sitting without starting to find the taste unpleasant. The addition of Grapefruit to the Orange in this seems to offset this taste and the juice tastes a lot slicker and smoother and is overall a lot nicer and I could probably drink another glass right after the first. Don't be put off if you don't like Grapefruit Juice, I don't like it either. There isn't enough of it to actually taste it, but enough to alter the orange to form a new taste.

            Like Orange Juice, and as the name suggests, this drink definitely works best at breakfast, or as a nice first drink of the day to take away that unpleasant taste in your mouth before you have your morning cup of tea. In all, I would definitely recommend it and always pick up a few whenever I'm in Tesco. At the price you can't go wrong, so give it a try the next time you are there.

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            15.03.2011 00:14
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            Much more effective than Soothers or Lockets

            Whenever I get so much as a sniff and a cough in the same day I like to have some of these handy for the immiment sore throat. Unfortunately they are getting harder and harder to locate, often I can only find the extra strong version which although still effective they aren't that pleasant, so if you can find the original Halls featured in the picture - let me know! Please note that these are not the same as Halls Soothers which seem to be a lot more popular, Halls Soothers have goo in the middle of each one and in my opinion are nowhere near as effective as Halls Originals.

            Waking up with a dry, scratchy, painful throat has got to be on the worst feelings there is. No amount of hot drinks, water or Lemsip will do anything about it for me. However sucking on one of these gets rid of the pain instantly, no matter how ill I am or what is causing the sort throad, within about 10 seconds one of these always clears the pain instantly! That's why I love them. Each packet of sweets is fairly small, with maybe about 15 or 20 in a packet. Each one is individually wrapped in it's own branded paper, sometimes the paper gets stuck to the sweet and I end up with a little bit of paper to pull out of my mouth so there is some room for improvement in this respect! They don't have much taste, but your mouth and throat is filled with menthol vapours, a smell similar to Vicks. The actual sweet itself is hard, crunchy and has little or no taste, and I can make one last as long as 10 minutes if I'm careful! The menthol feeling hangs around in your mouth for a short while after finishing, though not as long as, say, mint does.

            The trouble is, and I suppose the reason why they aren't losing their popular, is that the relief only lasts while you have the sweet in your mouth releasing it's vapours. As soon as the sweet is all gone, the pain is back and in full force at that. However, they aren't there to make you better, that's what Cough medicines and remedies are there for. These are simply there to provide relief from the pain until you are better, I think some people expect to take 1 or 2 of these and be completely cured the next day!

            If you don't expect them to do what they are not actually supposed to, you will not be disappointed with them, next time you have sore through, instead of thinking Lockets - think Halls Original!

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            14.03.2011 23:39
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            Gripping!

            When it comes to movies, there's not a whole lot that excites me. Give me a new kitchen gadget any day over a trip to the cinema! But this is one that has stuck with me as a truly excellent film and I can watch it over and over, even though I'm probably at the point that I know some lines by heart. I've just discovered the DVD is available for just over £3 on Amazon so have ordered and I am already looking forward to it's arrival. You don't have to order the DVD though if you haven't seen it, ITV own the rights to this movie and show it quite frequently, usually late night on ITV 1 or 2. I think this movie would be classed as a thriller, or possibly a horror. I would class it is as a horror movie because it is very scary and the microcosm of evil in this movie, Peyton, is reminiscent of a monster more than a person. I've heard and read many people describe this movie as OTT, I don't see or believe this at all.

            The movie revolves around the Bartel family, Claire is the asthma suffering mother of the family who is molested by her Doctor in very unnerving scenes during a breast exam. When she realises what has happend they report the Doctor to the police and this encourages more molested women to come forward saying the same thing. The Doctor kills himself, leaving behind a loving but scorned widow who we come to know under the alias 'Peyton'. The shock of her husbands death causes her to lose her baby, and she becomes hell bent on revenge against Claire for coming forward and causing all this.

            Calling herself Peyton Flanders, she worms her way into the family, slowly destroying it and trying to steal the young girl, Emma and the Bartel's newborn baby for herself. She turns the family against the loving Solomon who is suspicious of her, by convincing the family he is stealing Emma's underwear, she feeds her breastmilk to the baby so he won't take Claire's, and tries to make it appear as though husband Michael is having an affair. She also starts to believe she and Michael have a 'thing' going on which doesn't go unnoticed by a worried Claire. Not to mention, Peyton then follows this with a trap to kill Claire, but someone throws a spanner in the works by uncovering her secret, unfortunately for them they end up dead in the trap set for Claire.

            I won't reveal some of the key plot turns or spoil the ending, but will say that it climaxes with a very distressing edge-of-seat end scene when everything comes to a head, and ultimately another more central character dies a nasty death. Will Peyton meet her goal and manage to make the Bartel family her own? Or will she be found out and stopped in her tracks? I suppose this movie definitely works best the first time you see it, and many will probably only want to watch it once as after that you know what will happen, but I am still gripped by many scenes and find myself shouting at Peyton and Claire, knowing full well exactly what is going to happen!!

            For a old and I imagine quite low budget film this is one of my all time favourites. The acting of evil Peyton by Rebecca de Mornay is truly excellent. Her portrayal of a psychopath is amazing, and the fact that she manages to portray an image of kindness and caring under the guise of the family nanny whilst slowly destroying is very worrying - it could easily happen to anyone in the real world after all! The rest of the cast isn't very remarkable, I don't know them from anything else but they play their parts well. Annabella Sciorra's asthma acting is a bit naff, but she plays a haggered and tired housewife very effectively.

            Ultimately at £3 for a great piece of cinema you can't go wrong, if you have your doubts then just give it a try. It keeps you entertained, worried, uneasy and scared just through the use of great characters and a great storyline, no special effects needed. Keep it in the cupboard or on the shelf and next time you are stuck for something to watch give this a try. Enjoy.

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            13.03.2011 19:53
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            Stick with normal paste

            After being intrigued by the advert for this for sometime I eventually decided I had to try it after a trip to the dentist. The advert shows the inside of a virtual mouth being brushed with this stuff and the paste turning into a thick foam that coats all around the teeth. I was a bit skeptical, but since I found it was £3 for a small can of it I thought it had to work as advertised. I don't know whether they produce a 'normal' Isoactive or not, but I bought the Whitening version as that was the only one available in Morrisons. Their range of toothpastes is quite small, but they did stock this one so it is probably easy to find in any of the big supermarkets.

            I got it home and was looking forward to trying it, taking the lid off there was no seals to break anywhere on the can or lid which I thought was a basic standard. When you remove the lid, there is a tiny blue nozzle, you push this down to dispense the gel, this comes out an aqua blue colour and quite thick. I don't really know how much you are actually meant to use each time and the can doesn't advise on this either, but since I want the best effects I usually use an amount the length of the brush. As soon as you start there is a very distinct smell, and not a smell you want from toothpaste either. It took me a while to put my finger on it but suddenly I realised - it smells exactly like Tippex! After about 5 seconds of brushing it starts to turn into the white foam, and for me it's where the disappointment begins. Yes it is definitely thicker than an ordinary toothpaste can provide so it does make the brushing more enjoyable and feel more effective, but that's all it is, a bit thicker than normal toothpaste. It's still however watery and doesn't form a thick coating like the advert shows. So it just results in having to spit more. The idea of it is that it cleans better between teeth than normal paste, but I can't see this myself as it doesn't appear to do anything different.

            Once finished, I was hoping my teeth would feel dentist clean and be all slick and shiny, but they felt no different to if I had used cheap 79p store brand toothpastethe, and that would have left a nicer taste in my mouth as well. The can advises to wipe the nozzle clean after dispensing which I always do before putting the lid back on. Another huge disappointment here, by the next morning I remove the lid and a load of gel has spewed out of the nozzle overnight. This needs wiping off before using, and then it will have spewed out again by the next time you use it. Considering how much this stuff cost I don't like to think of how much of it is being completely wasted by it seeping out of it's own accord - after only owning it a week and using it twice a day it has gotten noticeably lighter. I've tried shaking it, I've tried not shaking it, leaving the lid off and none of this stops it.

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            • Innocent Orange Juice / Soft Drink / 18 Readings / 18 Ratings
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              09.03.2011 02:50
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              You might like it, you might not

              Innocent have relaunched this juice in a new clear 900ml carafe, I wasn't actually aware it came in cartons until I logged onto this site. To promote it they made a nice relaxing advert for it, complete with a Patrick Stewart voiceover, telling how it's never concentrated or sweetend - and exactly as planned it sucked me in. Firstly though I went on the website, and for shaking a virtual tree, you can win prizes. On my first shake I won a £1 off coupon to print out! So I was well chuffed with myself and looking forward to buying some. It's lucky I stayed on the website because I found out it's not available at ASDA, which is where I normally shop. Disappointingly my local Tesco didn't stock it, but I eventually found a measley supply of it available in Morrisons. It was stored amongst the refridgerated juices, smoothies etc.

              It was £1.99 for a 900ml carafe, or I think 2 for £3 - though I just bought one for now. Ideally I wanted to try the Apple Juice variety as it looked completely different to the average concentrated Apple juice, however none of this was available. The orange juice comes in 2 options, either 'smooth' or 'with bits', drinks with bits in them make me gag so it was smooth all the way for me. There's a handy little sticker on the lid/rim saying what kind it is to try and prevent you buying the wrong kind.

              It's very nice to look at, I almost didn't want to open it! It is a very vibrant and smooth orange colour, then there is a picture of an ape looking for mud on the side as well as a few facts about how they make it. They say they use 11 oranges to make one bottle of the juice, and that it's squeezed straight from the fruit - no concentrating, freezing, watering or sweetening is involved. The bottle confuses me somewhat, and I'm very tempted to call the banana phone to find out the answer. One carafe provides 6 x 150ml portions of juice, meaning it provides 6 daily fruit portions. Yet the packaging also advises that it should be drunk within 4 days of opening, so how you can manage to get 6 daily portions out of it when you threw it away 2 days ago is something I can't get my head around. Before serving, I think you are meant to shake it though I'm not totally sure, it says on two different places "Shake it up baby" anyway, so interpret that as you will!

              On to the taste, and this is where I was disappointed. I was expecting to experience something completely different, like how orange juice tastes when it's made properly. But... it just tasted like any cheap 44p a carton, supermarket own brand concentrated produce. Give me it in a blind taste test along with a concentrated carton and I don't think I could tell them apart. Given that the cheap equivalents still provide a daily fruit portion, and both are high in natural sugars I don't see much point in the Innocent juice, except for the knowledge that what you're drinking is a lot more 'pure'. I have just finished the last of it, don't get me wrong it was nice, and the knowing that it's not made from processed gunk is nice, but it was very underwhelming. It is very refreshing to drink, though I couldn't managed more than 1 glass in a sitting as the taste would become too much.

              I think the Apple Juice will be a lot nicer so will be trying that if and when I can find it, I've tried 'Copella' Apple Juice before and that is like a completely different drink to cartons of juice, maybe this is what I was expecting of the orange juice.

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              • More +
                24.02.2011 22:47
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                A good value, sturdy device

                If you've seen my earlier review, you'll have seen I used to use a Metro Stoplock Original as the main security for my car (also reviewed!) until the damn thing stopped working and fell to bits. This time when buying I did some research, it showed that this version had outlasted the attack tests, which last 5 minutes. Even some of the most expensive car steering locks don't even last that long, and this one only cost me £45 and I don't think the price has changed, though you will probably have to buy it online because I'm not sure if shops sell this anymore or not. Anyway, in complete contrast to the Metro Stoplock Original, I would definitely recommend this and if you can find one it is great value car security.

                Essentially it's in two parts, the locking mechanism and the security bar. The bar is very solid and sturdy, I'm not entirely sure what it's made of but by the feel of it I'd assume it has a metal core and a sort of firm but slightly squashy plastic coating. So if you do accidentally bash it off the windscreen or your knee depending on how you fit it it won't leave your writhing or crack your windscreen! The name/logo is engraved down the bar, like a sort of fashion statement. Be warned that although the bar has the same shape cut out the end as the 'Pulsar' models, this does not have a flashing light built into it and I don't think a model is available with one, though my thoughts on these were that they would just attract criminals to your car rather than putting them off anyway - maybe Stoplock thought the same!

                The locking head has two large rounded bars that hinge out to go around the wheel. The lock is a small hole in the plastic making it hard for criminals to access, and the keys for the lock are equally dwarf-ish, but taking this into consideration it still feels firm and locks securely nonetheless. Unlike the original which could just snap shut, this needs the keys to open and close it. Since I keep the key for the lock on with my car keys it's easy enough to just take the keys out of the ignition once I'm parked up and lock it. I can only think the reason they have made it this way is because the locking bars are quite protruding, so it's possible it could keep locking up which I suppose would get rather annoying.

                When it comes to fitting it's very straight forward. I put the bar through first and facing upwards towards the right (with the lock unlocked) so that it jams in the corner windscreen pillar. Then try to put the locking bars around prongs in the steering wheel, this will prevent the lock from being able to be moved about. This is on a 57-Reg Citroen Xsara Picasso, however my Mum has the same lock for her S-Reg Nissan Micra and she is unable to fit it. The middle of the wheel protrudes out too far and the lock can't be wedged in without squeezing the horn, so drivers of cars with similar steering wheel designs (like Peugeots) might have similar problems. She instead has to lock it and lie the bar across the dashbord which takes away a lot of the effectiveness that this lock can offer.

                As with all car locks, remember to store them somewhere safe while driving - ie not on the back seats or the parcel shelf. If you brake sharply it could come hurtling towards you, so put it in the boot or the passenger footwell.

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                • More +
                  24.02.2011 17:55
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                  Try Premier Inn!

                  I have had many, many experiences with Travelodge over the years. The chain has been around since the 80's, but the first time I stayed in one was around 2005. On the whole, I feel they are a poor representation of the hospitality industry. They charge low prices, and offer the absolute minimum in return, which when you think about it is fine. Where they fall short is that they can also offer dirty rooms, surly staff and terrible customer service. Premier Inn is a similar budget chain, charging low prices and offering very basic facilities, but they get all the things right that Travelodge gets wrong, so the problems that Travelodge has are purely down to penny pinching by the big-wigs and not just because of the low room rates.

                  The fact that people are cottoning on to this is why they launched their 'Sleep Tight' campaign with the Mr Sleep teddies. This is being done to make the brand look more 'friendly' and less corporate, a lot like Premier Inn already is when you think about it...

                  The customer service from their head office is appalling. Following a particularly terrible stay at a Travelodge in Sunderland, I wrote a recorded delivery letter to their Head Office ('Sleepy Hollow') in Oxfordshire. The address isn't given to customers, so I had to find it in the press office section of their website. They care more about investors than customers, you see. It was received and signed for 2 days later. I heard nothing back from them for over a month, so I emailed them twice and heard absolutely nothing. I had to look on Google for a phone number and eventually found one, though this only put me through to reservations, and the person on the phone had no idea how to contact Customer Services either, he kept telling me to use the contact form on the website even though I repeatedly explained they weren't replying.

                  So I once again emailed them, asking for a Customer Service phone number or I would claim the money paid for my stay back through the Government's 'MoneyClaim' site. This miraculously received a reply, telling me that CS didn't have a phone number and if I wanted to complain I would need to contact them in writing! I explained everything yet again. About a week later I received an email which informed me I had been given an e-voucher to the value of my stay. Basically a Travelodge voucher to use on the website. No apology or actual response to my complaint though!

                  Regarding individual hotel experiences, some are quite pleasant, a very small number are newly renovated, and the vast majority are cold, unwelcoming and dirty places. I'll write up separate reviews for the individual hotels to give a better insight.

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                • More +
                  24.02.2011 17:38
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                  Don't stay here, for any room rate!!

                  Welcome was fine, clean lobby and given/told everything needed by the receptionist. Access to rooms is controlled by keycard which is good as normally Travelodge hotels have this facility but don't actually use it. A lift and stairs are available. The ends of the corridors were dark, and unlit.

                  At first glance the room appeared pleasant, well lit, roomy and clean. However it wasn't really clean at all, besides the bed, which was. The sofa was heavily stained and uncomfortable and just looked horrible (see photo). The sofa had a wheel missing and the carpet was heavily torn and instead of being replaced, was just covered up by the sofa. The carpet was very dirty and visibly stained in various obvious places, highlighting that no vacuuming had been performed. What's more, there were various stains all over the walls and plenty of cobwebs. It is such a shame to be able to say I could look at virtually any patch of wall, and it would be stained/damaged in one form or another. The window was filthy, and the track of where a net curtain used to be was still there.

                  Without a doubt, the worst area of the entire room was the tea & coffee facilities. This may seem like a small area, but they need to be clean. There was two cups, which looked like the cheapest money could buy, 1 spoon (in a family room) which again looked like the cheapest money could buy. One of the cups was fine, but the other one had hairs in it, as well as fluff, something yellow and sticky around the side, and two large and very noticeable (and dangerous) chips out of the rim. To summarise, not the least bit of effort had been put in to cleaning or checking them. I boiled both cups and cleaned them properly since it appears to have been a while since this was done.

                  I am pleased to say the bed was comfortable with great pillows, and the bathroom appeared clean. Though given the experience with the cups, I didn't give using the bath a thought, and the shower curtain was torn and mouldy.

                  There is also the late checkout policy. I paid £10 for the privilege of a lie-in, which I didn't get. I confirmed with reception at check in that the late check out was noted in an attempt to prevent the exact eventuality that happened, and she confirmed this. From around 9am my door was randomly lightly knocked on (the do not disturb sign was present), later followed by vigorous banging and shaking of the door. This was at 12:30pm, and needless to say it woke me up. I am sure it would have been scary for a lone female guest. I got up and heard two staff very loudly discussing and realising outside my door that they had been trying to get into my room instead of the one opposite. They found it hilarious. I thought they had realised their mistake and that I was on late checkout. Yet right after this, a woman receptionist banged on my door, to which I answered. She asked me when I was checking out in a 'get out now' way. I told her about the late check out which she clearly had no clue of whatsoever and she walked off. She then knocked on a guest room next door who was very apologetic at running late and she very rudely interrogated the guest for their mistake. But did they apologise to me for their mistake? No.

                  Ironically, you would expect the biggest problem with a hotel above 2 nightclubs, would be the nightclubs. However, this did not present one single sleep problem during the stay!

                  Travelodge hotels can be good and value for money, but this one is an absolute dive.

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