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Vandersar
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Member since: 24.08.2009

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    • Room 101 / Discussion / 73 Readings / 70 Ratings
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      06.09.2009 04:05
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      I hate all these things.

      Ok - A chance to rant- Great! It's a shame that this category doesn't offer points because this topic in particular has produced some really thought-provoking and funny responses. Anyway, in no particular order here are my 10 nominations for Room 101.

      1.) Moths - Not a common phobia I think, but this is my big fear nonetheless. Summer evenings spent with the windows shut because of these uselessly moronic creatures. I just hate the way they fly around your head and they're so dusty and disgusting. I actually wear towels on my head if I have to have the window open in summer. They aren't pretty like butterflys and if one of them touches me, I start to have trouble breathing.

      2.) Bad drivers - I need to qualify this one a bit. I don't mean people who are nervous drivers, have a few speeding points or even drive too slow. I don't even mind people who break suddenly or pull out in front of you. People aren't perfect and sometimes people make mistakes behind the wheel - We're only human and most of us will have some accidents during our travels.
      There are however a certain number of testosterone-fueled cretins who treat the road as an opportunity to annoy and harass others as well as show scant regard for the safety of pedestrians and fellow road users. Queue jumping and tailgating; waving their arms or swearing at anyone not driving at least 20 miles over the limit; weaving in and out of traffic; jumping red lights; parking over two spaces; not acknowledging people who let them past; stopping traffic to talk to their mates in other cars; talking on their phones.... I could go on but we all know who I'm talking about.

      3.) Clampers
      It just amazes me how something that literally everyone hates is still legal in this country. What kind of parasite grows up to become a clamper? Any party who promises to ban clampers would get my vote.

      4.) Dentists - Apart from being torturers and sadists, they overcharge on a ridiculous level. Even on the NHS dentistry is far too expensive - I was once sat in the chair for less than a minute and charged £13 for the pleasure. That equates to around £800 an hour.

      5.) Religion - Don't get me wrong, I have friends who are devoutly religious but I can't help thinking that all of the good aspects of religion could easily be replaced by common-sense and humanity. Religion is essentially a divisive influence on people and a method of control. How many wars has atheism or agnosticism caused? I rest my case.

      6.) Political correctness & hypocrisy - Why can't people just use common sense any more?

      We need more women/ we need more ethnic minorities in the police/ in the government etc...What happened to meritocracy?

      Politicans steal thousands from the taxpayer and get away with it - I'm a teacher and if I stole anything from my school, I'd be sacked and rightly so. Where is the consistency?

      7.) The Daily Mail

      My Dad and I think that if you believed all of the health advice they dole out over the course of a 5-year period, you wouldn't actually be able to do anything, eat anything or go anywhere. Scaremongering, immigrant-hating, hysterical and overwhelmingly ridiculous. I hate The Sun but at least on some level it acknowledges that it is not catering to any mildly discerning readers. The Daily Mail is just dreadfully bigoted rubbish.

      8.) Intolerance & hysteria

      People who are intolerant of anyone different from them. This goes for the BNP as well as religious fundamentalists. I really laugh at people who criticise ethnic minorities for not integrating enough into British society. Look at the British communities in Southern Spain: Chipshops, Pubs, Sky Sports, English schools and resolute monolingualism. If anyone needs lessons on integration, it's the Brits.
      People who hysterically believe that there is a paedophile lurking on every corner or that every square inch of the earth is a potential deathtrap. The same people that mean less and less people are willing to run sports clubs or teachers willing to take school trips. Hysteria reigns, common sense is dead.

      9.) Service charges

      What arrogance! Excuse me, I'll say if your service was good or not.

      10.) Lemon meringue pie

      Quite simply the most disgusting thing known to man. I used to be forced to it at school and one time even got caught hiding it under the table. I cant even bear to be at the same table as someone else eating it.

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        06.09.2009 01:43
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        Better than it was but still not great.

        Ashford - Gateway to Europe? Well I guess that's not a bad tagline as it suggests that the town's main purpose is enabling people to get to somewhere better. Fortunately after 19 years of living there I did manage to get somewhere better; although I do return to Ashford several times a year to visit friends and family.

        Ashford is a medium-sized Kentish town on the train line and motorway from London to Dover and the South Coast. It has an international station through which the Eurostar passes to London, France and Belgium. I've never really understood why anyone would want to get off at Ashford; although it is a convenience for those needing to go to the continent and not wanting to travel to London to do so. Transport in and around Ashford is a major issue: there are very limited spaces in the town centre although this is improving gradually. The ring-road around the centre was for a long time a boy-racer's paradise but the council have now stopped this with a two-way system which includes less traffic lights and signs. Although this was aimed at making the centre a little safer, it is definitely confusing for any visitors and any safety benefits were hilariously outweighed by the council's road-sharing system where pedestrians were encouraged to walk out in front of traffic! Apparently this was meant to make drivers more careful.

        Shopping in Ashford has definitely improved over the last 10 years but still isn't particularly great. Next to the station is the Mcarthur Glen shopping centre which looks like a huge tent and is full of mostly uninspiring retail outlets. This place is just outside the town centre and much more easily accessible than the town centre. Its highlights include a Gap, M&S and Benetton with a food court and children play-area but most of the shops are not at the top-end of their respective brand categories. Ashford's centre itself is a little better with a Debenhams, HMV, H&M, Waterstones and TopShop as well as branches of most of the big banks. The real problem I have with Ashford shopping is it lacks anything to make it stand out. It doesn't have any really exclusive fashion shops or any quirky craft shops, 2nd hand bookshops, music shops or even alternative fashion shops. I guess what I'm getting at is that you could shop in any number of places with exactly the same choices on offer.

        Eating in Ashford is limited to a few decent restaurants, a few bad ones and lots of chains. I've heard that Utopia on the bank street has really good reviews and atmosphere and Wednesday nights are very cheap as the chef tries out new recipes. The Harvester just outside the centre is pretty decent too but the real problem is the lack of variety. A mile outside the town centre is the cinema complex with a few more chains and a night club. For the best eating experience, try the pubs or restaurants in the local villages around Ashford. The New Flying Horse or Devil's kneading trough in nearby Wye are very good.

        The nightlife has always been pretty average in Ashford. For years there was only one nightclub and this is still the main venue on Friday and Saturday nights. It is situated in an old mill and now comprises two venues: Liquid and Life Bar. These have done well to shake off their reputation as a haven for chavs and underage drinkers and offer a decent night out to clubbers. The M20 night club which is next to the cinema (and which may have changed its name) has been through various closures and revamps over the years. Both of these clubs offer a limited clubbing experience with a mixture of chart music, dance classics and cheese for the majority of nights. Anyone wanting a different kind of music would need to try Canterbury or hope one of the town's pubs has a decent band on.

        If you're thinking of visiting Ashford then I'd really suggest somewhere else first: Canterbury or one of the nearby villages are much more interesting and friendly. Living in Ashford isn't such a bad proposition for adults: it has good links with London and is surrounded by pretty countryside and villages. It's well supplied by supermarkets and shops and has a bowling alley, cinema and is about to open a new and improved sports centre. The schools in the area include a private school as well as two selective grammar schools; although all the comprehensives in the area have been rated as at least good by Ofsted. Ashford has definitely improved over the last 15 years but it's still an unremarkable place with only the basic attractions to offer residents and visitors.

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        30.08.2009 01:51
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        Worth it but your wallet will suffer.

        One of my most interesting, and ultimately rewarding, weekend breaks was to Oslo the Capital City of Norway. My girlfriend booked us tickets a few years back as I'd become really interested in the paintings of Edvard Munch and wanted to see the museum in his home town of Oslo.

        It's not often a holiday is ruined by international criminals before it starts; unfortunately this was what happened to us. Weeks after booking the tickets some international art thieves stole the world-famous 'Scream' picture as well as another of his more famous works. Obviously we were slightly miffed that one of our Christmas break's main attractions had been made less attractive but the tickets were already booked. Thankfully the paintings have been recovered and can now be seen, under heavy security, in the Munch museum in Oslo. Munch is a really unique artist and his museum is well worth a look for anyone with artistic interests.

        On arrival in Oslo, I was slightly annoyed to then find out I'd been tricked by my girlfriend: we weren't exactly in Oslo. We'd actually flown to Oslo Torp: A few rusty sheds stuck next to a runway in the middle of nowhere. At this point, I'd like to stress that there is an airport actually in Oslo, but Torp is the equivalent of flying to an airport called London Norwich. Be careful before you book.

        'Never mind' I thought, a quick train journey and we'll be in the hotel....Not so. We'd rented a car: or to be more precise, a wreck. I seemed to remember agreeing to a little driving but alarm bells should have rung when the company we got the car from was the uniquely-named 'Rent a wreck'. Half an hour later we were driving down the motorway in a blizzard surrounded by hills of snow in a 1994 Ford Fiesta.

        Thankfully we arrived unscathed and booked into the Thon Hotel Munch in the centre of Oslo. The city is beautiful in winter but so cold so be sure to take lots of thick clothes and above all gloves. The temperatures dropped to -15 on our first night and I really didn't know whether my hands were still there after an evening walk.

        Our walk actually took us to the beautiful Vigeland sculpture park (it's free) with lots of weird and wonderful creations by another Norwegian artist called Gustav Vigeland. These include a 14 metre high tower made up of intertwined humans, many variations on family life and my personal favourite: an angry, stomping baby.

        The following morning we went into the centre and to the Munch museum. The metro was simple, cheap and easy to navigate. This is the only time I'll use the word cheap in this review however. Oslo is a very expensive city and you will certainly pay more for meals and any other shopping you undertake. We paid almost £30 for Pasta and some drinks in one pub; thankfully we'd bought a lot of food with us the previous night so this was a one-off. If youre going on a longer trip, you either need to be minted or be able to get out of the city to one of the cheaper suburbs as Oslo was recently voted the world's most expensive city.

        The city centre is very pretty with street entertainers and a good range of shops on the main road Karl Johan gate. Again, expect to pay more than you would in England for most things; although a part of the city called Gronland has cheaper shops run by immigrants which can do better deals on food, clothes and jewellery.

        The harbour is quite busy but there is the viking ship museum and other naval-related attractions there. Perhaps the biggest surprise I got was the Children Art Museum which has hundreds of creations by children around the world. This was advertised as 'seeing the world through the eyes of a child' and I was really impressed by the variation and quality of the work.

        After a good night's sleep, we woke on Sunday and scraped 8 inches of snow off our wreck before driving back to Torp. As a weekend we fitted loads of cultural stuff in but Oslo is a modern city as well with lots to offer all kind of tourist. An excellent weekend break but beware the airport you choose and take lots of spending money if you want to shop or eat out.

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          27.08.2009 02:22
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          Too expensive for a Language course.

          Rosetta Stone is one of many language programs which offers users the chance to learn and practice another language. As far as software goes, this is one of the most expensive and for a complete set of levels 1-3 in Spanish or another language, you are looking at the best part of £350 for the online version which may give you 40-60 hours of learning depending on your speed.

          The program itself teaches a language by a technique called 'dynamic immersion'. I'll come back to this in a sec. Basically you are presented with 4 pictures at a time which contain different words (e.g Girl. Boy, Woman, Man). You then learn these words and are tested on what you remember by various methods. These methods include a speech-recognition tool which records you saying the words and helps with pronunciation, as well as more traditional methods like listening and selecting the correct picture or listening and writing down what you heard. As you progress you find things like verbs added so you get for example (the boy walks, the boy reads, the girl walks, the girl reads), moving onto plurals (the girls walk) and even tenses (the girls walked / the boys will walk). You are tested every so often to see how much you learnt and can go back and forward at your own will.

          So, is it any good? Yes and No. If you were uninspired by Languages at school than this might be the breath of fresh air you need to get you back into learning Languages. The speech recognition software is handy for beginners wanting to have a go at practising the sounds. There is a lot of stuff to learn and plenty of challenge in the learning itself; particularly in the way you can monitor and track your progress. The presentation is also really well executed in an attractive and clear way so the user doesn't get confused or bored.

          However... The whole concept of dynamic immersion is somewhat flawed. Basically the program claims to teach you a language the way you learnt it as a child with an emphasis on intuition rather than instruction (figuring things out for yourself instead of being told them). We're all fluent in our mother tongues so this seems a great idea on the face of things right? Well, not really I'm afraid. For a start Children spend 4-5 years and 12 hours a day becoming able to speak a Language with constant correction and attention from those around them. In this instance immersion is a word Rosetta Stone have used to mean ' No help in English' since the program works entirely on intuition from images and offers no explicit explanations of grammar or patterns. While this may seem ideal for anyone whose head dropped at the mention of tenses, plurals and other language jargon at school, it actually means the quality of learning is quite shallow and probably won't be effective. in the long run.

          The speech recognition tool is quite innovative but again it's not without its flaws. Anyone wanting to learn Spanish from scratch will definitely benefit but the tool tends to be a little over zealous with some of its pronunciation help. Having tried it myself and having pronunciation corrected was slightly annoying for a native speaker but also worrying considering the £350+ my school paid for the software.

          All in all this is a little expensive for something that doesn't really prepare you for a visit to Spain. The money would be much better spent on Language classes in a Language school where a good tutor will ensure you get structured, meaningful learning which can be remembered. There is unfortunately no substitute for a good teacher and real-life experience. Rosetta Stone isn't a bad piece of software, it just doesn't give value for money for those who really want to learn a language.

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          • toluna-group.com / Internet Site / 35 Readings / 35 Ratings
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            26.08.2009 03:10
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            Exasperation guaranteed

            As a teacher with a car that annually ruins summer holidays by amassing a large MOT bill, I decided that although I wasn't going to get a second job this summer, I could at least try to make some cash or vouchers to help stem the leaking bank account. I decided to sign up to some survey websites; unfortunately I didn't bother to read any reviews and haplessly stumbled on Toluna.

            5 weeks later and i can't say that the experience has been a good one. I have 56000 points and am desperately close to the 60000 goal for my £10 Amazon voucher; however, if I hadn't been on or near to a computer over the last few weeks, there would've been little hope of me ever getting near this gargantuan milestone. Having also now read more press, it seems that Toluna are in the habit of being just a little lacklustre when sending out vouchers (even by email) . Doesn't sound great does it..but now I'm so close that I can't give up.

            If you're thinking about Toluna, I would strongly recommend patience, patience and more patience. You will find that after amassing 2-3000 points quite easily at the start, it becomes more and more difficult. The problem is that the big points are won by filling out 10-30 minute surveys which 9/10 times you either don't qualify for or are already filled by the time you open your emails. The process can be infuriating, particularly when (and this is really annoying) you answer questions for 3-4 minutes and then are told you don't qualify.

            Otherwise there are 1-question surveys worth 15 points and the occasional 100 point one on the home page but these are just drips and drops in the ocean. You can also write opinions of 100 words to receive 80 points but these points are, rather annoyingly, not added until the end of the month.

            To conclude, I am sticking it out for another few days to get up to 60000 points and I'll then quit before I waste another 5 weeks hovering around my email box in the vain hope of the one survey/week I actually qualify for.

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            • University Challenge / TV Programme / 27 Readings / 25 Ratings
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              26.08.2009 02:19
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              The ultimate challenge of intellect.

              Since its inception in the 1960s University Challenge has become a national insitution which still draws a mass audience after years of an unchanged format. The show is typically aired during primetime on a weekday evening and features two competing teams from various universities and colleges around the UK. The teams answer questions from a range of topics including a music round and two picture rounds.

              The whole point of University Challenge is that it does give the nation's brightest young things (and sometimes not-so-young) the chance to show off knowledge on slightly more academic themes than the average quiz show. The questions can range from astrophysics to linguistics or Maths with a healthy smattering of popular culture and trivia thrown in to keep us mortals happy. There will be those who complain it's too hard or that it is just a bunch of intellectuals showing off; however, let's be honest every pub quiz as well as every less taxing TV game show is just slightly less intelligent people showing off in a slightly less intellectual way. You can't ban clever people from appearing on quiz shows because they're too clever. Last year's run featured the now famous Miss Trimble of the deposed Champions from Oxford..Her incredible knowledge was such that she was nicknamed 'The Human Google' after destroying all adversaries; unfortunately in a dramatic turn of events, her team were disqualified for having a player with a job.

              University Challenge is most definitely a challenge, and one that I aspire to do at least reasonably at every week. Most weeks I can get around 10 answers correct but what I find really 'challenging' is trying to answer the questions related to my degree. At least I can feel assured that 4 years of my life weren't a total waste. There are sometimes a few incredibly hard Maths or Physics questions which leave me running for the kettle but I find I can have a decent guess at around half of the content without a raging headache developing.

              The show's presenter Jeremy Paxman is a somewhat belligerent host who has now become famous for ranting at contestants' 'obviously' (ahem) ridiculous answers to the quiz questions. A random example from a recent episode
              Paxman: 'Name two of the three member states of the EU to include the suffix Land in their name'
              Contestant: Finland and Swaziland
              Paxman: Are you mad?

              He seems to have adopted the same rude and confrontational attitude he takes with politicians but for me it just adds to the entertainment.

              BBC 2's University Challenge is a quiz show for the intellectual and long may it continue. It's continuing popularity and primetime spot is testament to the fact that 'The Weakest Link' or 'Who wants to be Millionaire', although good quiz shows, are not the height of intellectual challenge and capacity.

              And it's goodnight from me.
              Goodnight.

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                25.08.2009 12:48
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                A good night's sleep but nothing special.

                We went down for a wedding and were actually reasonably impressed. It's in a good location just 3 minute walk from Ashford town centre; although some might say this isn't far enough! It is easily accessible from the M20.

                The rooms are spacious and kitted out with tv and various drink-making facilities. The hotel will order you a newspaper in the morning and the rooms are kept immaculately clean. The bathroom has one of those power-shower things which I personally prefer to one that just dribbles water on you. For the happy couple, I believe the Honeymoon suite even had a Jacuzzi.

                There is a nice bar downstairs with a decent selection of drinks at reasonable prices. The reception room for the wedding was a bit no-frills but this wasn't the most expensive place to rent. Apart from this, the buffet was also decent. All in all for what we paid, the hotel was worth it.

                The only complaints I would have was that the breakfast was very pricy and this did impact on the overall value. We also found that the reception was often unmanned or that at checkout time there was only one person. This inevitably led to an irritated queue of hungover wedding guests.

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                25.08.2009 00:22
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                Take a break from the Costa del Sol and get to the Costa Verde.

                Oviedo is definitely one of Spain's hidden treasures: a small, cosmopolitan city with a great range of cuisine and nightlife for all manner of tastes. If you're looking to explore a part of Spain that is a world apart from the sun and sand of the South but still offers a great deal of culture, scenery and life then give Oviedo and the Costa Verde a try and you won't regret the change.

                As I lived for nearly a year in Oviedo, I got to know the city really well and have since been back several times. Ok, it doesn't have the bright lights and bustle of Madrid or Barcelona but it is definitely a vibrant city which is well worth a long weekend, if not a full week. It also has the added bonus of being about half the price for food, accommodation and travel.

                With EasyJet now flying to Asturias airport (about 20 minutes from Oviedo), this historical city is becoming more and more accessible to visitors from UK. There is a good range of accommodation from youth hostels to budget hotels, or if you prefer to splash out, you could try 'La reconquista' a famous 5* hotel which has hosted the Spanish royal family as well as celebrities like Woody Allen and Arthur Miller. At £110 a night, it's not for the tight-walleted but it does give you luxury. My personal recommendation is the Gran Hotel Regente which is luxurious enough for most travellers and half the price.

                Oviedo's centrepiece is its Gothic cathedral with many picturesque plazas
                surrounding it and the beautiful 'Parque de San Francisco' where you can spend sunny afternoons relaxing with a book or just enjoying the scenery and wildlife. Dotted around the city are many interesting statues including a life size version of Woody Allen (which stands about 3ft tall and whose glasses are broken off and stolen with astounding regularity) and 'La Gorda' an enormous woman with an even more enormous behind! If you stare out to the hills, you'll see the giant Cristo statue which overlooks the city and can be reached by a short bus ride to the outskirts followed by a challenging but ultimately rewarding walk up to the summit.

                Without doubt the best part of Oviedo is its old town with the Sidrerías and restaurants along the Calle Gascona. These offer a great range of food including lots of seafood and of course the famous Asturian Sidra (Cider) which the waiters insist on pouring into your glass from over their heads! Also you can try the Fabada Asturiana which is a deliciously filling bean stew but whatever your taste you won't be disappointed with the range and quality of food in Oviedo. For more authentic Asturian cuisine or loads more local produce, get down to the market in the old town on weekends and take home a taste of Asturias.

                If you're still on the streets (and you should be until at least 4 o'clock) you could head deeper into the old town onto the famous Calle Mon which has lots of small bars catering to all musical tastes. Wander down to the Bar Asturiano: a favourite with both international and Spanish students of the City's university, for a warm welcome, live music and a large selection of ales. Interspersed between the bars are the dangerous chupiterías which offer a huge range of shots and concoctions of different colours and potencies to keep your alcohol levels up between bars. This can be particularly dangeous if you get lost among the choice of rock, dance, cheese and Jazz bars on offer. For dance fans, there's the Santa Sebe: an ultra-modern dance club with 3 floors and unisex toilets. However don't miss out on the ultra-laidback Danny's Jazz club: perfect for the end of the night and some relaxed chilled-out chat and music. The friendliness of the locals means the international students and tourists feel at ease among the bars and restaurants and this reflects in the buzzing, happy atmosphere in the old town every night.

                The City is also within easy reach of the quiet and beautiful Asturian coast as well as the Picos de Europa which provide breathtaking walks in the historical region around Cangas de Onis and Covadonga.

                If you're thinking Spain is just sea, sun and sangría, think again: Oviedo is the perfect location for those wanting to discover a different aspect of Spanish culture in a lighter climate and with more open, green spaces to enjoy. Puxa Asturias!

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                • Paul Blart: Mall Cop (DVD) / DVD / 24 Readings / 21 Ratings
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                  24.08.2009 21:58
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                  Really don't bother.

                  This is, I'm afraid, one of the worst movies I've ever seen. There is absolutely nothing original except for perhaps the title which some poor viewers might have mistakenly thought would result in a funny movie. Even my 2 year old Godson was bored sick after 20 minutes and had to be dragged (no actually he went quite willingly) upstairs to watch the far superior 'Bee Movie'.
                  The movie is based around an overweight security guard who after several poorly scripted scenes manages to save a mall from an unconvincing gang of skateboard-wielding criminals. The romance is provided by his unrequited love for a hair-product saleswoman; unfortunately the romance and, in fact, this whole movie could have been written by feeding in a list of 100 cliches into a computer and using the first ten that it selected.
                  He watches the girl from behind a pillar (seen it), he buys something ridiculous that he doesn't want just to talk to her (seen it), he has to compete with a rich macho braggart for the girl's affections(seen it), he rides his scooter backwards past her stall and......crashes (seen it a hundred times), he gets drunk and embarrasses himself (seen it), he has to apologise but thinks he's blown it (seen it), he saves the day and gets the girl (seen it)
                  It's just unbearably bad . Please do yourself a favour and rent a different movie.

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                    24.08.2009 19:12
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                    A long slog but worth it.

                    Watching Cate Blanchett is like being a front of a pile of unopened presents: you just dont know what you'll get. Brilliant in 'Notes on a Scandal' but pretty rubbish in 'The Missing', I was filled with just a little sense of trepidation before deciding to brave 2 and 1/2 hours of film.

                    Fortunately this proved to be one of her better outings and although the film starts off a little slowly and maybe drags on a little, it does blossom into a decent heart-wrencher by the end. The basic idea is that Brad Pitt is born an old man/baby/wrinkly thing and, wait for it...., starts to grow younger. During the film, we see him abandoned by his father and brought up in an OAP home before leaving on a series of adventures, having an affair, returning and reconciling with his father and even taking over his .....Button business. A strange storyline yes, but one that is at least unique among the thousands of other clichéd love films. It's also rather entertaining too, if not just for the fact that we get to enjoy an ugly Brad Pitt for at least the first hour before he regains his uncommonly handsome looks. The various residents of the OAP home also give the movie nice moments of charm and humour against the more dark and romantic interplay between the main characters.

                    In the midst of all this we have the love interest between Pitt and Blanchett which is blowing agonisingly hot and cold before they finally get it together. Unfortunately with Blanchett getting older and Pitt younger, the romance is doomed (sniff, sniff) and the audience is forced to witness its inevitable climax with a sizeable box of tissues on hand.

                    Overall a good movie but it could have been made a little shorter by removing the idea of the deathbed confession by Blanchett's character which didn't seem to add anything important to the plot.

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                      24.08.2009 18:12
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                      Fifteen out of Ten

                      We decided to visit this restaurant as part of our holiday to Cornwall and as an early birthday present to my partner. It turned out to be the perfect romantic experience. Jamie Oliver's Fifteen in Cornwall is well worth the expense for a special occasion and a credit to the staff and chefs who work there. Be sure to book in advance for both Lunch and Dinner to avoid disappointment, particularly in the Summer months.

                      The restaurant itself is in Watergate Bay: an isolated and beautiful part of the Cornish coast. The absence of hordes of tourists was a welcome break from the mayhem of nearby Newquay and the seafront location gives all evening diners an unforgettable view of the sunset over the Celtic Sea. The seating plan also allows everyone enough space and privacy to enjoy the restaurant's atmosphere without being cramped or excluded from the view.

                      So, down to business: The price was £55 each for a 6-course taster menu and a further £20 each for specially selected wine with each of the 5 food courses (the 6th being coffee) . The waiters and waitresses are experts and you can expect 5 star service which includes a quick but informative explanation of the choices on the menu. When the wine arrives before each course, the resident connoisseur will also give you a rundown on the wine( Why it complements the food, where it's from...) before leaving you to enjoy the food and the delights of Watergate Bay.

                      The food itself is immaculately presented and each course offers something different. Obviously the menus change from day to day, but the research and care that goes into sourcing the ingredients and getting the flavours right means that whenever you visit, you won't be disappointed with what arrives at your table. I even decided that for pudding, I'd deliberately go for something I thought I'd hate (Lemon) but even the dreaded Lemon blew me away with the quality of the taste. The coffee at the end of the meal was also a cut above and a great, relaxing way to end the evening. If you're driving or you don't drink, Fifteen has its own specially-flavoured soft drinks with the Dandelion and Burdock being a personal favourite.

                      If you're going to Cornwall or within driving distance of the restaurant, this is a unique and rewarding dining experience. I can't think of any Michelin star place I've been to that beats Fifteen on food or location. In Summary, it's a special restaurant for a special occasion.

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