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I write this as someone that has come through dooyoo addiction and survived, and let me tell you how you too can drag yourself away from the keyboard and reclaim your life from dooyoo's claws.
First I must set out how my addiction started. I remember a rainy day in February, I think it might have been a day ending in 'y'. I was sat at my computer desperately working out how I was going to pay for my gold-plated helicopter that I had just bought on credit. From browsing MoneySavingExpert I came across dooyoo, and thought, you must be kidding. What kind of mug seriously believes that a site is going to pay you to write things?
Being a pretty big mug I decided to give it a go, I sat down on my Italian marble stool at my Italian marble desk, and whacked out five quick reviews of dubious quality. To my amazement I then took a look at my account details and saw that I was being paid! My initial stage of addicition therefore was based on personal gain, much as it is with say, Heroin. It makes you happy, it feels good, everything is positive and it is doing you no harm.
I then rapidly reached a the second stage of dooyoo addiction, which I believe is the stage where you receive some nice comments and praise and then become an 'artiste'... I am the mighty Virtuoso and I wield my keyboard like a broadsword, I slay all who do not see my genius and I stride over the dooyoo landscape like a God!... This was my general attitude during what I now call my 'uberman' period of dooyoo addiction. I was constantly checking dooyoo all day every day, dreaming of what I could review, writing reviews whilst at work, and generally basing my free time around dooyoo.
My third stage of dooyoo addiction I will call my contemplative period. As I read round the site more and started working out who the good reviewers were, I realised that there were many writers who were either as good or better than I. I found myself wandering my house, disheveled and unshaven, the realisation of my insignificance was unbearable. For a short period I considered driving my Rolls Royce into my swimming pool and never darkening dooyoo's doors again.
My fourth period of dooyoo addicition is where I have found my centre, my equilibrium if you will. I now write sparingly, only when I feel inspired and energised. Money is at the back of my mind of course, but I now see it as a bonus rather than a raison d'etre. Although dooyoo will remain a part of my life I will not let it take precedence over other past-times, such as hunting Quail or purchasing Picasso paintings.
My advice to those people who find themselves checking dooyoo twenty times a day and noting down every product to review, is to take a step back and look at the long term. That kind of behaviour is just unsustainable, you will burn out and get sick of dooyoo, trust me, even if that thought seems as unlikely right now as farting out a full sized replica of the Eiffel Tower.
Take it easy.
Having recently watched and reviewed Kidulthood I thought it would just be rude not to watch and review its daddy, Adulthood.
Adulthood begins six years down the track from Kidulthood, after naughty naughty Sam is released from the slammer for tickling Trife with a feather or something along those lines. Sam seems to be a completely changed man from the first film and as the film moves on I actually started feeling sorry for the guy, as he just wants to make a new start but is persued by a motley crew of vagabonds hellbent on revenge for the tickling/feather incident. Making the viewer feel sympathy for Sam is quite an achievement on Noel Clarke's part, because I felt nothing but disgust for him in Kidulthood, he was the epitome of everything that is rotten in society.
There are any number of 'badman' that want to shank Sam, including one nefarious cad who is paid £6000 to merk him. Just to clear up some of the lingo shank means 'bop on the head with a bottle of Moet' and merk means 'whack on the back of the knees with a polo mallet'. I like the way this film weaves several threads of storyline together, this gives a similar effect to the first film where the plot flashes by like lightning and it's impossible to be bored. This is compounded by the fact that the film is a mere hour and a half long, and hallelujah to this. I'm sick to the back teeth of 'epic' films that have me itching to commit Hari Kari after three or more bum-numbing hours.
One thing I find unconvincing about this film is that there is no nudity in it, there are several sex scenes but it just seems a little 'kiddy' that we don't get to see the goods. It's funny because I often think the opposite, that nudity in a film is unnecessary. When the rest of the film is packed to the hilt with drugs, cursing and violence, why is the sex censored? I find this a little twisted. Perhaps this was done to maintain it's '15' rating, shame, because it smacks of a lack of artistic integrity.
The acting is good, I particularly enjoyed the spirited performance by Adam Deacon as 'Jay'. Adam seems a bit more comfortable with the street lingo than some of the other characters who can appear a little uncomfortable with what is obviously not their normal manner of speaking.
Overall I think this is a superior film to it's younger brother. It makes more of an effort to get to the emotions behind the violence and criminality, and lingers a little longer on the human side of things. Kidulthood skims over the heart and soul of the characters and is all about the wham bam thank you maam plot, whereas Adulthood gets down to the nitty gritty.
I'll leave you with a DIZZEE RASCAL quote from my favourite ditty of his, enttiled 'pussyole', which features on the soundtrack:
"Why you rolling with that pussyhole
Moving with that pussyhole
You know that his a pussyhole
I showed you his a pussyhole
His always been a pussyhole
So he will always be a pussyhole
You're still with that pussyhole
You must be a pussyhole"
Take a while to ruminate on that folks, the deeper meaning won't be immediately apparent.
There is already an excellent and might I say epic review of this site by docpov, but I thought as I have been using it I would give my own experience.
ADVFN is a financial information site, with its primary concern being the stock market. Many people upon reading the previous sentence will have already now rated this review and clicked out of it, but if you are one of the intrepid voyagers prepared to read this, then congratulations! You will probably be rich and have beautiful children.
Upon clickcing onto this site you are presented with a bewildering array of flashing things, numbers, links and adverts. I have to say, this is without doubt the most badly designed site on the internet, and trust me when I say I have been on most of the internet. I can just imagine the web designers sat down at their initial meeting, "Right guys, our task is to make this site IMPOSSIBLE to navigate, and in fact so confusing that at least 90% of people just throw their hands in the air with disgust and go to another financial services site. In fact boys, if we get any return visits at all, you are all fired."
Well being the 'content over useability' kind of guy that I am, I decided to press on through the jungle of meaningless garbage and see if I could find anything I wanted. After a good half an hour of clicking around I decided that this did indeed have the goods. This site has a staggering level of information on every listed company, including their vital financial information such as profit/turnover/debt and then a whole lot more that most people interested in the stock market could never hope to need. There is a news section that has live updates on any piece of news regarding the company including director dealings, results, announcements etc. There is a quote section where you can take a look at the latest bid/offer spread. But best of all there is a Monitor section where you can add the shares you are watching and look at live prices, highs/lows, volume and other delights. There is a Toplist section where you can check out the biggest movers of the day and many other related lists.
So it's a bunch of handy stuff to tell you what to buy and what not to, assuming you have any idea what it all means, but how much will all this set you back? Well this is where I am slightly confused, because the site tells you that you can get free real time prices, but then sometimes it seems to cut out and tell me I have to pay, so I can only assume you only get a certain amount of time each day if you are too skint to cough up some dosh, like me. Nowhere does it really set out there policy on this. Upon clicking on the "Upgrade Package"(Oo err) you are presented with an enormous list of options for different levels of service and information all the way from £5 a month to £130 a month.
If you are serious about your trading and trade mainly UK stocks you will probably need to cough up for the "UK Level2 Lite Montage" package which is the cheapest package that gives you Level2 data. Level2 gives you the ability to see how many people are buying and selling a stock and in what quantity, this data was only available to professional traders until recently so I guess £30 a month isn't too much of a kick in the teeth.
Anything else to say about the site? As already alluded to the amount of advertising present on the site is just ludicrous, and hilariously you can pay £10 a month on top of your package to have the adverts removed. Giving you something you never wanted in the first place and expecting you to pay to have it taken away. This is barely better than those nasty guys in tourist spots such as Morocco that wrap a scarf round your neck then expect you to pay for it.
To continue the theme, the daily stream of emails you are sent is equally intrusive. Although I do find the morning and evening market news updates useful and read them most days, I do not find the daily spam emails useful and think it's pretty disgusting.
So to sum up this is a treasure trove of information, but severely tainted by the unprofessional looking site and generally intrusive attitude they seem to have.
I can understand the concept of these crisps, but other people seem to be very confused by it. What it gives you is the choice between either using no salt at all, or just a little bit of salt, but what tickles me pink are the bumbling dimwits who use the whole packet! I say this because I have a friend that has a packet of these every single day for lunch, and uses the whole packet. Now surely if you are going to do that you might as well buy a packet of ready salted crisps? I ask him regularly why he buys Salt & Shake and he says "because you can choose how much salt you use." YES BUT YOU ALWAYS USE THE WHOLE PACKET! I don't even bother pointing it out anymore, it's futile. I guess freedom of choice is more important than sanity.
If you do use the entire packet then Walkers have just cleverly used you as part of their workforce.. if Salt & Shake ever became the predominant crisp on the UK market there would be thousands of Salting Operatives out of work.
The astute among you will now be thinking "but you fool there is less salt in the little blue packet than there is in a bag of ready salted". Well perhaps there is, I do not have a packet of both types of crisps to hand but my Googling skills suggest to me that there is 0.2g in one and 0.6g in the other. I won't even tell you which is which because quite honestly it makes no difference whatsoever, that 0.4g is insignificant, unless of course you happen to eat ten packets a day. If you do eat ten packets of day you have a lot more to worry about than the salt content anyway.
Until recently Salt & Shake was (as far as my piffling knowledge of the crisp sector goes) untroubled in it's supremacy of the unsalted crisp market. But now Tyrrells have come up with their 'naked' crisp which has no salt at all, and just to slap Salt & Shake in the face and stamp on its foot, does not even contain a salt packet. Personally I refuse to go anywhere near Tyrrells crisps because they are hideously expensive and they are pretentious. Damn and blast this trend where working class basic things are snobified and made healthy and classy.
Overall I think Salt & Shake do have a place in the market for the salt conscious, although I would not mourn their passing as I do not give a flying fig how much salt I consume other than giving a passing thought to the 6g a day guideline. Is that still the guideline? Overall as I am quite a 'crazy wild carefree living in the moment carpe diem die young madcap' kinda guy, I go with Ready Salted.
Kidulthood is the story of a bunch of inner city 'youfs' being naughty in da ghetto, shanking each other, and generally being pesky little oiks, innit blood, ya get me.
It begins with shocking scenes of bullying in a school, led by the truly disgustingly nasty 'Sam' as played by Noel Clarke who apparently was in Doctor Who, but luckily I've never watched Dr Who so I can make no comparison. Later we will see that Sam is a central character in this, as the film weaves its merry way through thuggery, extreme violence, casual drug-taking, casual sex, casual wear, and casual crime, guns, drink, casual suicide, happy-slapping, bullying, racism and casual poverty.
After having a chance to ruminate on this film it strikes me that they actually managed to pack into an hour and a half just about every inner-city/black stereotype you've ever imagined. As a result of this it's a seat-of-ya-pants extravaganza of plotting, which follows several threads and characters until it all comes together in the excellent, although perhaps predictable, finale.
The language may be impenetable unless you have some knowledge of black slang, it literally is almost a patois at times. So if you are 45, drive a Jaguar, and live in Windsor you will probably watch five minutes of this, think it's in Swahili, search desparately for the English subtitles then turn it off and go back to tending the Dahlias.
I'm not sure this film has a message, it seems to me like pure entertainment based loosely around themes of racism/inner-city troubles. I don't mind this, surely not every film has to deliver an intellectual message about its contents? What it certainly does is to make you think 'crikey this kind of malarkey really does go on doesn't it!'
The acting overall is superb, I was convinced that these kids were 'real', even though most of them are probably luvvy-duvvy darlings from middle-class backgrounds straight from drama school. The main female character, Alisa played by Red Madrell was perhaps a little bland and lifeless compared to the highly animated male cast, but as she was meant to be the sensible one I guess I can't be too critical.
I feel that I should warn the timid that there is one very disturbing scene where a character is forced to carve a letter into a chaps face with a knife. Don't let this put you off though because I have a feeling no one actually had their face cut and that in fact this was just a piece of acting using a latex overlay on the face and some kind of red substance made to look like blood. I could be wrong though.
Overall this is an excellent piece of film making, it doesn't try to be too clever, it doesn't get all obscure and arty and any cinematograhpic or camera tricky is well placed and not overused. It is impossible to be bored by this film and it does not overstay its welcome.
I'll leave you with some Dizzee Rascal lyrics to ponder, as featured in the soundtrack:
"I talk tough cause life's been rough
gritty, shitty life ain't been to pretty far from buff
so I'm off to the elegant stuff"
Gourmet Burger...is this an oxymoron or am I just a moron? This review will hopefully be able to answer that question, and more!
I have been to several Gourmet Burger Kitchen restuarants, namely two in Bristol and one in London, as far as I can see they all have the same menu and the same decor, so there is no need for me to specify which one we are talking about. Although they do have different staff at each restaurant so that might affect your experience. It would be preferable if all the branches had the same staff of course but I will not be marking them down for this.
What's on the menu?
Umm.. burgers! There are around 20 (no I didn't count them, I refuse to waste ten seconds of my precious life) choices of beefburger and chicken burger with a huge range of toppings sauces vegetables and extras. Side dishes are fairly limited but are your usual selection of chips, chicken wings, breaded mushrooms and the like. There are also a few vegetarian options such as a butternut squash burger, but in my humble opinions vegetarians should stay out of this place as it is more or less a temple built to worship meat. The God of meat would probably be angered if a vegetarian stepped foot in his holy place and he may strike you down, or something like that. By the way I have nothing against vegetarians, my future mother-in-law is one.
Personally I always have the sweet-chilli burger, the sauce is inexplicably unimaginably intensely and utterly divine, and then some! Seriously, I have had every sweet-chilli sauce on the market and nothing is like this. I would ask them where they get it but it may spoil the magic when I find out it's made by a bloke called Barry from Rotherham, I would rather just imagine it's made by a hareem of beautiful and naked women dancing around a pot of spices in a tropical garden on a small lush green island off the coast of Thailand.
I have tried the new Habanero burger and I would advise the timid to avoid this, unless you enjoy the sensation of your mouth being on fire, your nose running with snot, and being blinded as you accidentally rub your eyes.
The wife-to-be swears by the chicken/camenbert/cranberry burger, and having had a nibble I can confirm that it is tasty and of superb quality. The chicken is not the reconstituted fatty garbage you get in your typical burger, and unusually it actually tastes like chicken! The high quality theme runs through the beefburger too, which is of the highest quality, not too fatty, and certainly not gristly.
The burgers are in the region of £7, and they do not come with any sides such as chips. This of course is massively more expensive than I would typically pay for a burger, and it can be hard to get you head round the concept of paying such a sum. But if you forget the word 'burger' and think of it as a 'mashed up steak in a bun' then it doesn't seem so bad. After all, who would begrudge paying £7 for a steak? I personally think that GBK is good value for money, but others may argue otherwise!
Service has always been excellent, never had an incorrect order, and the burger is always cooked as you asked for it to be cooked. Yes they ask if you want it rare/medium/well done, try asking for that in McDonald's and experiencing the stare of death from the oik behind the counter.
Here are a few things I think you should aim for and a few things I think you should avoid:
Nothing gets on my moobs more than someone stating the obvious. Say you have a review of "The Sun" newspaper, someone will start the review with something like, "This is a newspaper, printed on paper, people often buy it from Newsagents." This kind of stuff is useful maybe for those people that have been on a spiritual quest in a Tibetan cave for 40 years and have just come back and made a beeline for an internet cafe to read dooyoo. But for the rest of us, we probably already know it thanks. Time and time again I am forced to read such revalations as "Dairy Milk is a chocolate bar" and "Normally shoes are worn on the feet."
On a similar note to the first point. I think it's important to assume you are not writing for a cabbage, give the average dooyoo reader some credit. If it's a commonly known product then make things interesting, give a unique perspective. Don't just think, "ah that's an easy 50p, I can bang out a few hundred words whilst shutting off the primary thought centres of my brain."
Tailor the length of your review:
There are some people who write the same amount of words for every review. Whether it's a review of a computer or a wok, it's always 200-300 words or it's always 1000+ words. This baffles me because how on earth can these two products be reviewed properly in the same number of words.
Inject a bit of yourself into it:
Some reviews are incredibly dry, reading them is like eating cold grey porridge whilst sat in a small perfectly square room with white noise being played at you. Fact after fact after fact gets thrown at you whether you like it or not, and you finish the review knowing the exact chemical composition of the plastic the box is made of, but without any feelings for whether you should buy it or not. If any opinion is given at all it will probably be a final 'afterthought' paragraph thrown in. In my view the facts about the product should be disposed of in as few words as possible; and then after that nasty messy business is done the review should focus on providing intelligent and well backed-up opinion.
Following on from the previous point, I do try to have a sense of humour whilst reviewing. If you read the best reviewers in magazines and newspapers it is rare you find a review that is done 'straight'. Perhaps I go over the top sometimes and touch on surrealism and irreverence, but I would rather be too much that way than too much the other way.
Read your reviews:
There is an edit facility! If you have read your review and you realise it's gibberish as I sometimes do, all is not over. You can go back even after it is on the site and change it or indeed update it. I don't do this very often because I normally use the preview function to check it, but right now I am distracted by the cat playing with a battery and it's these kind of times when I just forget to preview it and al kindss off speling misstakes creeep inn.
If I ate a star that had gone supernova I imagine it would burn my mouth, and if I were to consume an opal covered in strawberry jam it would probably taste ok for a second until it broke my teeth, so how can it be that both Starburst and Opal Fruits are such an enduring and successful product? I think the key to their success is that the name of the product is deceptive, all they are is fruity chewy sweets!
Starburst come safely cocooned in a devastatingly bright yellow packet. I note that this packet has got considerably thicker and more sturdy since my last purchase some months ago. This is excellent news for the more intrepid Starburst consumer, you can rest assured that if you need a Starburst halfway up Mount Everest all those little gems of fruitiness will still be there ready to give you that burst of energy you may need to reach the summit.
Each individual 'burst' is wrapped daintily in thin paper, folded over as perfectly as a napkin from the Queen's very own table. In case the consumer cannot work out what is contained within by the colour of each individual wrapper, a picture of the fruit in question is printed on it. This is excellent news for the colour-blind Starburst consumer, top marks to Mars PLC for their obvious attention to the needs of minority groups.
Emblazoned across the front of the wrapper we find that Starburst now contains "50% MORE FRUIT", as a natural cynic and having a distrust of statistics, I think to myself, that's all well and good but that could mean that the fruit has gone from 5% to 10%. Upon scouring the ingredients I find that it contains a fairly meagre 13% fruit. Shame on you Mars PLC for using the power of statistical manipulation upon our fragile and uneducated minds.
I think the overwhelming impression of starburst is the intense sweetness. If you do not have a sweet tooth these are not for you. The fruit flavour is of course entirely synthetic tasting, but then with the meagre fruit content this is to be expected. Despite the synthetic taste I have to confess that I do enjoy the zing and the freshness of the flavour. However as I get older and my sweet tooth declines I do find that I yearn for a packet of pretzels to accompany my starburst to balance out the sweetness. My favourite flavour is strawberry, closely followed by lemon/lime, then struggling in to third place is orange and bringing up the rear we have blackcurrant. You can also get tropical starburst which has a series of exotic flavours such as grapefruit.
From looking at the nutritional information I think the salient point is that Starburst are 61% sugar. That's right, if you imagine there are ten sweets in a pack, it would be like eating 6 Starburst sized sugar cubes, and that would be crazy right? Ah who cares, our poor abused bodies are used to being overloaded by sugar, by products as diverse as baked beans and soup, and it's not like we're all shovelling Starburst down our gullets by the bucket load. Reserve Starburst for the occasional sugar-rush, don't eat these every day or you will end up looking like a cross between Rick Waller and Celine Dion before she had her teeth done (look up the pictures if you don't follow me).
This is a novel of such complex imagination and creativity it quite frankly scares me that one man is capable of writing it. I have read several of his works before such as The Algebraist and Consider Phlebas, and I find that Matter continues that streak of ingenuity. The one thing that strikes me more than anything is his ability to rinse the English language for all it is worth to create new terms for the advanced technologies and cultures abounding in this futuristic world.
I love the way he takes everyday words and reuses them to mean something completely different. Such as his use of 'Mind' (with a capital M) to mean an artificial intelligence contained with a ship that has unimaginable intelligence knowledge and complexity. Then we have terms like Neural-Lace meaning some kind of virtual reality that exists in the mind that allows you to interact with any data within the Culture civilisation. I could go on naming and defining terms for ever more, there really are that many concepts that Mr Banks invents.
This book is not just a nerd's encyclopedia of future technologies, although it does glory and indulge in it, it also uses science as a background to tackle issues that are present in todays society. For example he tackles issues such as the futility of war, the debate about religion, the question of whether more developed societies should interfere in less developed society, and even you might argue that he makes us consider the issue of whether monetary exchange is necessary in civilised society.
However none of these issues take away from what is basically a rollicking good yarn about the need for a Son's revenge for a murdered Father, and then this gives way later in the book to a much more significant quest as the protagonist travels through advanced cultures to seek help in gaining his revenge.
My only issue with the book is that the ending is rushed, badly rushed. Although I have no problem with the pace hotting up at the end of a book to create a 'Grand Slam' ending I just had the feeling that the author was sick of writing it and wanted to get it out of the way! It felt like a book of two halves, the first half of which was 450 pages long, and the second half of which was 100 pages long.
The shocking and epic ending left me feeling shaken, and I mean that in a positive way. It's not often I put down a book and just stare into space for a few minutes to take it all in. This is no Hollywood ending, it's cruel and graphic and just plain nasty... oh but then he provides a happy-joy-joy epilogue, shame on your Mr Banks, I can only assume your Editor forced you to do this just in case Steven Spielberg ever comes knocking with a screenplay.
If you read this as your first Iain M. Banks novel you will either love it or hate it, I can't see anyone being indifferent to it.
Since the making of Free Willy no film based on an animal has really captured my attention. How could a labrador called Marley ever live up to that scene where Willy jumps the harbour wall? Well let me tell you, I never intend to watch another film based on the love a boy has for his killer whale, dogs are the new killer whale for me.
We see a newly wed couple at the start played by the much maligned Jennifer Aniston and the freaky nosed Owen Wilson. They soon decide to purchase an Andrex puppy, and in typical film fashion he's a naughty little scamp, but a lovable one. We then follow the trials and tribulations of the trio as they grow as a family, and meet some difficult challenges along the way such as having to search through poop and taking Marley to obedience school.
The good bits:
Well, it is eminently watchable. This would not normally be my kind of thing but I found myself drawn in by the breezy acting and just general all round huggy happy charm of the picture. Sure there are weepy bits thrown in but overall I think this is a feel good film.
Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston do have a good chemistry together, it's not like Rachel and Ross, but it's up there. I never once thought that it felt fake or forced. I find it a little hard to cope with seeing Owen Wilson's nose for two hours but I overlooked this and just concentrated on Jennifer Aniston's.. umm.. nose.
The bad bits:
I have read elsewhere that they used 22 dogs for this, and quite frankly it spoiled it for me. You would have to be blind not to notice the glaring differences between the dogs, one of them looks more like a Great Dane than a Labrador, another was so fat I'm amazed it could fit into the studio, another was too dark, another had an almost white coat. I'm sorry to sound fussy but this was like the film starting out with Jennifer Aniston in the lead role, then in the next scene it's Eva Mendes, oh and then it's Nicole Kidman, and then she turns round and it's Scarlett Johansson.
My other issue is the drawn out weepy bit at the end, apparently girls like to have a good cry over films, and I can see that makes sense, crying releases endorphins, but did they have to milk it quite so outrageously? I would prefer to be emotionally effected in a kind of 'tickled by a feather way' that builds into a crescendo, this was like being emotionally attacked by Timmy Mallet on speed.
My other issue, and this only really applies to a certain percentage of the population is that if you aren't a dog owner or an animal lover in general you may find this film pretty annoying. When he's savaging the house you'll probably think it's just dull and unfunny and lose any empathy you had for the dog, and when the weepy bits come you'll probably think, ah it's just a big dumb dog, who cares? So my advice for people without an affinity for animals is to steer well clear.
To call the article 'Severn Bridge' is a touch misleading because in fact there are two Severn bridges, although the newer bridge is now commonly called the second Severn crossing I think it is important to clarify which one we are talking about.
The original Severn Bridge:
This bridge was built in 1966 and allows the M48 Motorway to cross the River Severn joining (roughly) Bristol to South Wales. It cost £8million to build, took 5 years, and the builders during that period ate approximately 8 million cornish pasties and said the 'F' word 16 billion times. This bridge replaced the rickety old Aust ferry that I never had the pleasure to go on but I hear from my parents that the bridge was badly needed. The bridge has Grade I listed status which means that if you apply for planning permission to build a conservatory on it, you are unlikely to have it granted.
Here are some technical details for the bridge nerds amongst you. It is a suspension bridge, 1600m long. The towers rise to 136m above the water level and are painted a hideous light blue to make them look as much as possible like the inside of a 1960's hospital. Overall the bridge is now looking very dated and tatty, the road surface in particular is a patchwork quilt of repairs and resurfacing and so is very bumpy. It is also quite narrow and you are relatively close to the side barriers when driving, so make sure you don't nod off or you'll be joining Davy Jones.
The toll for crossing this hideous monstrosity is £5.40 and £16.30 for a HGV. Personally I find this toll absurd, what is the justification for it? All roads need maintenance and cause the government expense so why 'tax' bridges in particular? If you live in Bristol as I do it is of course possible to take an enormous detour through Gloucestershire to skip the bridge, but it would cost as much in petrol to do this as you would gain from missing the toll. Woe is me. I guess I just have to be thankful I don't drive a lorry.
Second Severn Crossing:
This beauty of a bridge was constructed in 1996 and allows the M4 to wind its merry way between England and Wales. It is only a few miles away from the original bridge but of course takes much of the traffic away from it, and allows easier access to Cardiff. I had the pleasure of watching this bridge being built, I would occasionally take trips down to Severn Beach to watch the builders swear, eat their pasties, and move heavy things around. When standing directly under the bridge it is a monumental sight, and I think it's worth a walk there for anyone that lives in the region.
Let me give some stats for the bridge aficionado. It is 5128m long, the deck is 35m containing 3 carriages and a hard-shoulder as opposed to the original bridge's two carriages and no hard-shoulder. The two main central pylons are 149m high.
My experience of the bridge is that it is a modern, smooth, safe bridge. The carriageways are wide and the hard shoulder is useful when you are being chased by the police. I've been across this bridge on many occasions and it never seems to be particularly busy, whereas I remember going across the old bridge before this one was built and it was hell. So certainly the new crossing has worked to solve the congestion problems. This bridge was shut recently due to ice falling off the structure, but don't let that put you off going across, as the temperatures are normally scorching down in Costa del Bristol.
The tolls on this bridge are I believe the same as on the old bridge, and I have already commented on that.
Overall both bridges are superb feats of engineering and the Second Severn Crossing is a worthwhile addition despite being so close to the first bridge.
I guess I just have to add to the rousing chorus of approval for this product. My cat Jasper is extraordinarily fussy about his toilet arrangements, the slightest whiff of his own urine or poop in the tray and we will find him doing his business all over the carpet to teach us a lesson.
We started Jasper off when he was a kitten on an enormous bag of cheap litter that my brother had bought for his ferrets (long story, ugh) and he seemed to like that well enough.
We then got all pretentious and decided to try him on this wood-chip stuff that looks incredibly like dog food. First time I poured it into the tray I fully expected him to start chowing down on it, but luckily little Jasper seems to have a pretty good understanding of what to eat and what to crap on. We immediately found that (to my wallets relief) he didn't approve of this change of litter, and informed us of this by liberally treating our carpet to a fine covering of faeces.
The next saga in the litter story is of Tesco Value litter. I thought to myself that if he didn't like the most expensive kind of litter logic would surely mean that he should love the cheapest! Well.. sure he loved it, but unfortunately it seemed so bad at covering odours and drying up his pee that it needed changing almost every day. This seemed like a false economy at the rate we were going through it. It also seemed dusty and it looked nasty, not that his bothered me too much, I'm not the kind of guy that buys Andrex Quilted for myself, and the little poo factory is getting what he's given.
Then one fine night not so long ago we had ran out of litter, and the wife was sent upon a mission to acquire more. To my horror she returns with a bag of Catsan, alarm bells were going off in my head, this stuff looked expensive. I nearly fainted when she told me it was £5.50.
With clenched teeth I poured it into his tray.. hmm I thought.. this stuff looks nice. Very white and even looking, no dust, maybe I have judged too quickly. And so it has proven, this stuff really is excellent. Seems to soak up any pee, I cannot smell the usual ammonia odour that builds up, it just does the job. So far since buying it king Jaspar has not objected to it, and our carpet has remained free from his 'work'.
Yes it is expensive, but so far I think it will need changing considerably less often than Tesco Value litter, and so may actually represent value for money. That price we paid of £5.50 was from a Tesco Express store which is about the worst possible place to buy this, I imagine if bought from a normal Tesco store it would be cheaper and when in bulk even cheaper still. I really should get on and research that as I could probably save a fortune in future!
Ralph Lauren, he's American but he seems to pay homage to merry old England as much as he can. Polo is of course the reserve of the English upper classes, and his line of clothing, fragrances and accessories brings a little English flair to those doughnut-chomping illiterate yanks with their stained white vests and preoccupation with guns. So the question is, does this fragrance smell like a polo-players crotch after a hard chukka, or does it smell like the kind of fragrance that would have Miss Snooty Ponsonby-Smythe-Carruthers dropping her La Perla undies for you.
The bottle is very simple, just dark blue glass with a silver metallic top. Nothing much to say about this as this is not aimed at the kind of person who give a rats backside about what the packaging looks like; oh no, this is designed for the kind of manly polo player that, although suave and sophisticated in public, probably goes into the stables late at night and wrestles with his horse.
The smell? I would describe the fragrance as earthy, woody and spicy, the kind of smell you would probably only wear at night. I also think this smells intensely manly, so manly in fact that it's almost a parody of 'manly' smell, as if there only aim was to encapsulate 'man' in a bottle. This was well illustrated recently when I was travelling in a car with my girlfriend and her sister when from nowhere her sister declared loudly, "well someone smells MANLY today." This fragrance is the antithesis of such frangrances as CK1 that are designed to be unisex, or Paco Rabanne Ultraviolet that smells extremely sweet.
Does it stray into old man territory? On a scale where CK1 is at one side and Old Spice or Brut is at the other, this fragrance is definitely on the Old Spice side. But at the same time I am in my twenties and quite happy to wear it. If I were buying this as a gift I probably would not risk buying it for anyone under forty, but your dad will be fainting with glee if he is presented with a bottle of this at Christmas.
I don't know how much this cost me as I have had it for donkey's years and it was a gift, but I understand it can be purchased for a mere £22 from such sites as frangrancex.com. I would suggest purchasing the 75ml bottle because it is such a strong smell you need to use very little, and it will last forever.
Seems to me that OnePoll is just about the most popular thing to review right now, and who am I to go against the majority!
OnePoll is a site where, after you have become a member, you have access to surveys that you fill in in order to be rewarded with pitiful sums of money, normally either 5p or 10p. Although once a few weeks back there was a 25p survey in the list, it gave me a taste of what it must be like to be Bill Gates. They say that surveys can reward up to £1 although from my experience and from reading other reviews this is an event that's as likely as discovering that Lord Lucan has crash landed a UFO into the Loch Ness Monster.
There are also surveys that reward in prizes of Amazon vouchers, typically £25 or £50, I have read of someone winning this so I suppose that it is genuine, although I imagine there are a huge number of members so I don't suppose the odds are great.
Typically I find that two or three surveys are available to me each day so I can earn around 15p to 20p. This is no problem as each survey is very short and typically takes a minute or two to answer. The problem however is that the minimum payout is an enormous £40, so even if you filled out every survey that ever came up and went on this every day religiously, it would still take six months to a year to get a payout. Some may see this as worthwhile, and if you do then well done because it takes some seriously long-term thinking.
What are the surveys like? The topic can vary, although 90% of them at the moment seem to have some kind of connection to the downturn in the economy. I have to say that the quality of the surveys are embarrassingly bad, I remember having to learn how to write surveys in GCSE business studies and it is quite apparent that the idiots writing these surveys have not studied to this level. Perhaps they have a crack-team of 9yr olds writing them.
Question after question either make no sense or are impossible to answer given how I have answered previous questions. It makes me appreciate how 'The Sun' and other trash papers get their ridiculous statistics, they get them from ridiculous surveys that make no sense and are filled out by people that couldn't care less and just want their 5p. The next time I flick through a copy of The Sun and discover that "90% OF GIRLS ALOUD FANS ARE MEMBERS OF MENSA!!!" I'll take it with a pinch of salt.
Seeing my redeemable total go down by 10000 was like being beheaded by a playboy bunny, painful and fun at the same time. Yes that's right folks I just redeemed my first Amazon voucher.
The idea when I started here was to put all the money I earn from here, and all the money I earn from the internet as a whole, into a savings account. What with my epic mortgage my savings are looking quite pitiful, and my savings account deserves cheering up.
However this idea has gone out of the window as I have had a better idea. To cut a long story short I am going to use my Dooyoo money to educate myself on the world of finance/money/economics/investing in order that, in the long term, I will be vastly better off than I am now!
The world of money and finance has always bored me to tears. If I ever saw someone on the train reading the Financial Times I would either think he was incredibly dull and an accountant, or someone that wanted to look like an Audi driver that actually drives a Daewoo Lanos. You should be reading the football pages or staring at boobs like me, be a real man and put down this salmon pink abomination!
Then an epiphany struck, perhaps these FT reading chumps actually had the right idea, perhaps if I paid more attention to what I was doing with my money and the long-term view I could have that warm glow that financial security gives you.
So with my first 10,000 miles I have bought The Naked Trader by Robbie Burns. Not the most highbrow of books perhaps but I thought it would give me a nice introduction to the world of stocks and shares and I have heard lots of good things about it. My next purchases will possibly be a book on financial spread betting, then I would like a book to give me an overview on economics. If anyone has any suggestions of any books in this field, or on investment in general, then I would be glad to receive them!
Thank you Dooyoo for enabling me to broaden my horizons. Anyways, I gotta scoot because the newsagent might run out of copies of the FT. Oh who am I kidding, as if anyone around here buys the FT.