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It would have been dangerous for me to review this one myself seeing as it's my wife who's following the plan, so over to her.....
I've been dieting (or trying to) for many years, but the word 'diet' and I don't really get on. I've tried smaller portions, I've tried slimfast etc but after the initial quick fix, I always ALWAYS get bored and stop. The old habits sneak back and before I know it, I'm back where I started. Anyway, after my wedding in May this year, we honeymooned in Sicily - all inclusive with all the alcohol, pasta and icecream I could eat. Upon our return, I got on the scales and had reached an all time high. In September, I asked my mum if she would come with me to weight watchers. That night. No "we'll start next week" but strike while the iron's hot. For my starting weight I was actually obese.
Despite my initial embarrassment about my weight, the class leader was very discrete (having my weight called out was my biggest fear!) and encouraging. I was put on a daily ProPoints allowance of 29 - the lowest daily amount. This is 'supplemented' by a 49 ProPoint weekly allowance - a safety net if you like. Since mid-September I've now lost a little over a stone and I've almost gone down a dress size. At the moment I'm away for a few days and although I'm not strictly tracking at the moment, I'm consciously choosing the healthier options. That's the difference - it reeducates you. My biggest downfall on slimfast as once I'd lost the weight, I went back to old habits. On Weight Watchers I'm managing to have a croissant for breakfast and still lose weight.
I'm not adapting what I eat much - if my husband has steak & chips, I have steak & salad. I'm definitely not hungry on this diet... The main incentive for me is the weekly weigh in.
A little tip for anyone already on the plan (or if you decide to follow it after all). If you pick up a lighter choices meal from Tesco, or sainsbury's or morrissons, the ProPoints value is printed on the back.
I am a devoted RPG gamer and have been for the past 20 years, so when the first Dragon Age came around - I was delighted, as it has long been accredited with being the spiritual successor to the legendary Baldur series. If you have no idea what the Baldurs series is, I suggest you go and bag yourself a copy - see Bioware games for PC!!!
So, when Dragon Age 2 surfaced I had high expectations and I have not been disappointed!
I find myself absorbed into my characters world and find that the dynamic triggers of relationship building between your main character and companions an ongoing quest in itself....but I am jumping ahead of myself a little!! See, already I am excited just reviewing this fantastic RPG!!!
You start off your adventure fleeing from the genlocks and an ogre and the monsters and character development just keep picking up momentum as you progress through the adventure! You will find that at odd moments throughout the journey - depending on the companions you have with you and what type of main character you wish to be - i.e. good/bad, generous/greedy, etc.. you will get different reactions when dialogue options pop up. Within this, the choices you make affect how the companions perceive you and have a much bigger part to play as you near the end of the game.
DA:2 is split into four main chapters, with lots of mini quests (well worth doing btw), companion quests(needed to be done for future benefits, items, exp, etc..) and general travel to different parts of the realm to explore.
I must admit, I am a massive fan of epic, non-linear, open world RPG's - such as the elder scrolls series (can't wait for Skyrim released 11/11/11 - guess what I will be reviewing in a month or two time, when I drag myself away from the XBOX long enough to type!! lol), so I have a little disappointment in the fact that you have limits as to how far you can travel. There is a linear path you will have to follow eventually to progress your story, but that aside, you still have a lot to see, do, steal, kill and discover and the detail is vast and enough to satisfy my need for making my own choices, random dungeon trawling for rare items, experience and to admire the incredibly detailed landscapes.
The development of your character and companions is also very well thought out and depending on what style of play suits you from character creation (I recommend mage -very fun!!) you have several paths open to you and can access extra skills as you progress though a couple of different methods - which I won't spoil for you!
In addition to character development, there is still that time honoured wish to get the best equipment, potions and general items to use whilst questing. There are plenty of unique items to claim after defeating some quite challenging mini-bosses (save a lot and frequently!!), as well as purchasing them from merchants - however you may want to being sparing with what you spend - again don't want to spoil the adventure, but you have been advised!! lol
There are lots of alchemy options, rune creation and crafting options - as well as rewards of experience for finding books telling the history of various events, people, etc... and mining spots too.
When you are checking the inventory, the way you access your spells, items - whether in battle or out is very quick and easy and can make a huge difference with the outcome of your battles. When out of battle and roaming around, take the time to review some of the literature you have found, as it can make an interesting read in itself and lead to a couple of quests with good rewards - that you would miss otherwise
When playing games of this magnitude, I often play a lot slower and try to not miss anything and have racked up a HUGE number of hours on DA:2 and when you go for anther play through - maybe as a different class, you do get new perspective and the attitudes, conversations of all characters can change towards you.
The cinematics you are treated to throughout the journey are subject to a lot of your choices and are visually stunning and are interwoven very well to the progress of the story and your character over the 10 year campaign - game time obviously!!! The voice acting is well done and the expressions of the characters are quite funny in parts!
Overall, if you love the traditional hack n'slash, group party control adventure-fest - then this is a worthy addition to your collection. Combined with some great downloadable content, which has hours of play within themselves and further deepen the story of your character and give more depth to the qhole saga.
I must say, I can not wait to see what is next to come, but I will be pre-ordering whatever the offering is with absolute faith - as the first Dragon Age was awesome and epic, this sequel has further developed an already impressive series and I can only see it going from strength to strength.
After five years my wife's laptop decided to stop charging and kept losing internet connection, so we wanted something small to replace it. All it really gets used for is browsing the internet, playing facebook games and a few spreadsheets / word documents for work. So this netbook was ideal for her needs.
I did a lot of research into exactly what it was we wanted. My main 'must have' was a good battery life. I always take the advertised battery life with a pinch of salt, but the netbook tend to need charging every four days or so with generally only 1.5-2 hours use a day. We also have no issues with connecting to the internet.
The netbook came with windows 7 home starter which I believe can be upgraded, but realistically I think it would struggle with the RAM that comes packaged with it (512mb). As a matter of course, I bought additional RAM to install on the netbook (always best to buy when the netbook's new so you know you're buying the right one!). It was easy for me to install although my wife struggled a little.
It's lightweight enough to be carried round in a bag and (having had it for a few months now) we've not really had any issues with the keyboard, touchpad - in fact, it's been quite a consistent performer. As my wife was moving from a laptop to a netbook, I was expecting her to have a few issues adjusting to the smaller keyboard, but she's not had any problems. As I have slightly bigger fingers, it's probably more of an issue for me, but it's still not really a problem.
I believe that this can be bought in a number of different colours - my wife chose this one and (unfortunately for me) she bought it in pink. No matter - I don't take it out of the house anyway! The fact that there isn't a CD drive hasn't proved to be a problem - you can pick them up cheaply enough anyway. The relatively low capacity hard drive is also not a problem (but let's face it - you wouldn't be buying a netbook if you wanted something with a massive hard drive) as we both have external hard drives for storage of photos, music etc.
Overall, my wife's very happy with her netbook and if she's happy, that means she's not nicking the macbook all the time (well, except for the facebook games, which struggle to run on the netbook)
I'll admit to being a bit of a bookworm. When I moved in with my partner, I had a bookshelf that covered a whole wall and it was stuffed full with books. Overflowing, in fact. So when I saw that Amazon had launched an e-book reader, I had to have it. I've now had my Kindle (3G version) for almost a year, so I think that my review should be quite a balanced one.
Firstly, searching the Amazon bookstore is a breeze with the keyboard - I think I'd struggle with the basic model that's just been brought out. Books can be bought at the touch of a button, but don't worry - if you get carried away and click 'download now' by accident, Amazon actually gives you the option to change your mind although this is presumably within a reasonable time period. I'm not sure they'd 'reverse' the purchase after more than a couple of hours.
So how do the specs measure up? Well, the Kindle Keyboard (as it's now marketed) has an advertised battery life of 2 months. Now this is based on a daily use of only half an hour. I have a one hour commute in the morning and another hour in the evening. I use my kindle for at least an hour a day. From memory my kindle was last charged at the end of September and it is on charge at the moment. So I've had a little over a month which is to be expected given that I'm using the kindle twice as much as expected. To optimise the battery life, ensure that you have switched the wireless off when you're not using it; otherwise your kindle will be searching for a signal and running down the battery.
As I've mentioned the wireless in my previous paragraph, I'll expand on that a little. The 3G version switches between 3G and wifi and yes, the 3G really is free. You really can sit on a beach and download books if that's what takes your fancy. When I was on honeymoon in Italy earlier this year, I refused to pay £8 for just an hour's internet access in the hotel lobby, but I wanted to get in touch with family at home. So I logged in to my facebook account via my kindle and sent a facebook message to my brother and sister. I then logged into my emails (again on the kindle) and emailed our respective parents. Yes, the web browsing is glitchy and it does have a tendency to crash occasionally when you're using it, but it can be done.
Before I received my Kindle I was 'concerned' that I might not like the e-ink. After all, I'd never read anything on an electrical device without a backlight - it might be weird. I needn't have worried. It really is like reading a book, with the exception of being able to change the font size or orientation of the text at the push of a button. There is even the option (if the downloaded book has this enabled) of having your book 'read' to you. I'll admit that this is also glitchy!
The 3G version comes with 4GB of space which is apparently up to 3,500 books. Now having had my kindle for a little under a year, I cannot comment on whether 3,500 is realistic or accurate - I currently have 72 full books and 94 samples. Personally I find the samples extremely useful as you can read the first one or two chapters of a book without having to pay for the whole thing - I suppose it's the technological equivalent of standing in a bookshop flicking through a book to see if it's your cup of tea!
I have read reviews of people being disappointed that the kindle don't ship with a USB cable - the power cable that mine came with can be disassembled to give you a separate USB cable, but this was not made clear in the user guide.
My partner has an android phone, so downloaded the kindle app for it. By syncing the android app to my amazon account, we can read the same books without having to pay for them twice. I can also 'restore' books that I've accidentally deleted from the device quite quickly and without having to re-purchase.
So am I ready to ditch paper for technology? I'd love to be able to say yes, but I can't just yet. Whilst my kindle goes everywhere with me and had introduced me to new authors, I am still buying paper books. This is because in supermarkets & bookshops there are often "buy three for £10" or three for two offers. Amazon does not yet offer this facility. Also, e-books have a minimum price which is set by the publisher. You can sometimes get the paperback copy cheaper. But as I say - I have 72 books on my kindle so it definitely isn't putting me off!
A little tip for you - this isn't publicised in the Amazon blurb - you can play minesweeper on your kindle. Simply press shift, alt and M on the keyboard!
My wife and I got married back in May of this year and my parents (knowing we like taking pictures of where we have been and the beautiful landscapes we see) thought this would be great for our honeymoon - they were right there!!!
I am by no means a professional photographer, nor even a very experienced amateur (getting there though!!) - what I would say though, is no matter your level, this camera makes it so much easier for you to take the picture you want. The multitude of settings that are preset and the ability to alter different levels for particular shots is extensive.
For our honeymoon, we spent a week on the Isle of Wight at a family apartment overlooking a beautiful view of the sea, so when the sun rises I was out there at the crack of dawn with the new SLR and the results were not disappointing!! Furthermore, we went on to Sicily for two weeks and for one of the day trips we were 10000 feet high virtually at the top of Mt Etna and again the SLR lived up to its fine reputation and more. To be honest we were surprised that the camera managed to cop well with the drastic temperature changes and didn't suffer from misting of the display etc. The wisps of snow in the air were clear captured a sight that you have to be there to see in person and amazingly enough, a picture of a snowflake was inadvertently taken - but the clarity of the snow flake at close range was again amazing.
So, what else could I tell you - I could tell you more about the spec.'s but you will have read about those already, what I can tell you is that the feel of the camera in your hand is comfortable and allows you to keep a steady balance. The magnifying range with lens is fantastic and vast. Playing around with the various settings, whether a seasoned pro, or a novice snapper looking to develop their skills - the menu system is clear and even without reading the manual, you will get to grips with it like a duck to water. Even my wife can use it and she's a complete novice.
The accessories you can find on the market are great complements to a marvelous piece of photographic genius. I know that there are more expensive and advanced items out there, but I do strongly believe you are getting some serious value for money when you invest in this product and it will last for many years to come. In fact, my brother is doing a media course at university and has a similar (but higher spec) model to this - personally I see no difference in the quality of image captured.
Overall, if you are looking to buy your first, or even upgrade from an older SLR type - you will not go wrong by visiting your nearest tech shop and asking to see one of these and you will see exactly what I am trying to convey. Words work well, but images can speak a thousand words.....or in this case 532!! lol
One of my friends got married in secret recently and we decided to mark the occasion with a 'girls only' meal at Cafe Rouge in Blackheath, London. A reservation was made and we were given a table in a fairly quiet corner of the restaurant (no mean feat on a Saturday evening!). Although we were sat in a quiet corner, we could still hear the general chatter of a french restaurant as well as the music. It was quite refreshing to be in a restaurant in London on a Saturday where the staff are relaxed - relaxed staff equals relaxed clientelle!
One of our party was late, but the waiting staff didn't rush us - they were happy to wait for all of us to arrive. They kept us topped up with drinks until we were ready to order. My friend chose from the set menu, and myself and the other woman chose from the main menu. Specifically, I had the onion soup to start, followed by chicken caesar salad. Despite the fact that it was a busy Saturday evening, there was no wait to speak of for the first course to arrive. Boy was it worth the wait! Onion soup - amazing! Such a simple concept, but sooooo delicious. The soup served at Cafe Rouge got the balance between soup and crouton just right.
Moving on to the main course - the salad arrived with the caesar dressing in a pot on the side (ideal if you're watching your weight). Again, a simple dish, yet so many places manage to get it wrong. Not so here. I could easily have eaten two (or three) plates of salad.
The two others in our party had different dishes and were similarly impressed. We also had desert (lemon sorbet) to round the evening off. Between the three of us, dinner amounted to £60 so it was extremely good value for the standard of meal that we had. The waiting staff were friendly, courteous and didn't rush us out of the restaurant. At no point did we have to draw the waiting staff's attention to the fact that our glasses were empty - they noticed straight away and asked if we would like more.
One of the habits I've picked up from my mum is that I have to 'inspect' the toilets in any restaurant I eat in. Her logic is that clean toilets equate to a clean establishment overall. Well if that's the case, Cafe Rouge's kitchen must be gleaming!
I'd never read anything by C J Box before, but this book came up on my recommendations on Amazon and I thought "Why not?". Boy I was not disappointed.
The two main characters have been unable to have their own child so they have adopted a young girl from a local teenager. Just days before the adoption is finalised the child's biological father raises an objection to the adoption and the adoptive parents are put in the impossible position of having to say goodbye to their longed for and much loved daughter. They are given (as the title suggests!) three weeks to say goodbye.
During those three weeks, it becomes apparent that the father doesn't actually want his daughter, but is being coerced by his father, a local judge. This book follows the twists and turns taken by the adoptive father as he fights to keep 'his' daughter and find out the truth behind the last minute change of heart.
I read a lot of books similar to this, and I pride myself on being able to guess the twist, or at least have a good idea where the book is likely to end. I was genuinely surprised by the ending. The writing style really draws you in and you will find yourself really empathising with the adoptive parents. At times you'll even find yourself having a little sympathy for the biological father.
Since reading this book, I have moved onto other titles by this author. I really hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
Over the many years of learning to cook various dishes (and creating some of my own!!) I have developed a great interest in the sourcing, preparation and quality of meal I have. I particularly enjoy fish in all forms and I have found every experience at the Loch Fyne in the Bluewater shopping centre, Greenhithe in Kent to be enjoyable and of great value for the reasonable price.
Loch Fyne uses some of the freshest meats and fish I have had the pleasure to taste. As aforementioned, I particularly like fish and I must say the selection and quality are very good by any Michelin starred restaurant and at a fraction of the cost!
I like the fact you can also purchase fresh fish/seafood from the counter at the Bluewater restaurant and they are always happy to give a little tip on what you can do with it to produce flawless meals, whether hosting a dinner party, or just a nice meal with your friends/family.
The selection of the wine list is also of a good standard ranging from both old and new world wines and well known labels to ones that are little know that are worth trying!
Whether you are going out for a date, anniversary, birthday or just a random meal out - you will find Loch Fyne has a menu that will have all the options you desire from a fish-based restaurant.
One of the aspects I really treasure about Loch Fyne, is that it doesn't forget that simple is good - for example out of its many superb starters, there lies White Bait in batter with a garlic mayonaise dipping sauce. It is a simple classic and one of my personal favourites!
However, don't be fooled into thinking all you can get here is a fish on a plate with chips. Along with the standard menu - which is of excellent choice, you will often find lots of specials available. One of the mighty fine dishes available on the manu is the Goan Fish Curry. Again, this a personal favourite and well worth trying for all fish and curry lovers out there. The mix of prawns, monkfish and spices in one bowl with the curry sauce and a very well presented dome of white boiled rice on a rectangular serving dish is both attractive to look at and even better to eat!! The desserts (albeit not fish based lol) are delightful and provide a fitting end to your dinning experience
I will profess that Loch Fyne does have one down side - because it is so popular we have to queue on occasion!! Lol, but I would add that the wait is normally minimal and we are fortunate at the Bluewater restaurant to have both inside and outside seating.
Overall, I would heavily recommend at least one visit to this fin-tastic restaurant and if you enjoy the experience as much as I have over the years - I am sure you will be making it a regular haunt many years to come!
I love films!!! I watch too many films and I would consider myself a little bit of a critic of them too!!!
I am always keen to see a new release and often find normal T.V. listing to be a little boring at times and then go to the film library I have amassed over the last few years!!!
This obviously has had a fair amount of cost over the years and takes up a lot of space in our house. I find Lovefilm to be the answer to my problem!!
I love films and the fact that you can stream directly through our PS3 to our flat screen a joy. There is a vast collection of 'watch now' films, AS WELL AS still being able to rent 2 films by post as much as we want and as I am typing this, my wife has just told me Lovefilm have emailed us, that we are going to be getting an additional rental for no extra charge per month!
Whether I want to watch on my laptop, or the big screen is no problem, I find that the delivery speed excellent and the choice is vast. I can request either DVD/Blu-ray. The user interface via the PS3 is easy to use and the search function very straight forward. You have total control and can request your rentals via this medium too.
Overall, I can not actually see a downside to Lovefilm personally and have saved a fortune on purchases that I may have only watched once - i.e. a try before you buy kind of mentality. Whether you are looking for a film from many years ago that you couldn't get to the cinema to see, or a recent release - Lovefilm is definitely one to use in my humble opinion.
Deus Ex came first, followed by Deus Ex - Invisible war and now the mighty Deus Ex - Human Revolution.
I remember how unique the first one was, how much the second was anticipated - so the latest installment has had much to live up to....and live up to it, it does in bucket loads!!!
For those who are not familiar with this series, Deus Ex - Human Revolution is based on the man made evolution of humans by the use of nano technology and mechanical augments to increase strength, sight, mental ability and lots of ways to vanquish your enemies.
Whether you like playing a stealth character akin to a cybernetic ninja, or a un-yielding cyborg of death - what makes the difference is the manner in which you choose your path.
A good RPG will give you choice, a great RPG will have the world change with your choices, but an excellent RPG, such as DE:HR, gives you all this, a deep engaging story and consequences for every action you take. You are Adam Jenson and from the opening prologue, to the end epilogue - you are going to have lots to do!! You can customise your character, the weapons you use, choose how merciful/mercenary you wish to be and lots of side quests and awesome cinematics. The plot is intricate, engrossing and in my humble opinion one the best I have had the pleasure to play and I have played pretty much every popular RPG since 1993, on all formats - as I have always had a particular niche taste with RPG's - so I will be reviewing quite a few!!!
Without trying to give too much away, as you may well have read reviews in game magazines and websites, so I don't want to repeat stuff you may already know - but what a treat you are in for. Whether you know the back history and remember characters from JC Denton's past (lead character from DE:IW) this gives insights into their beginnings and ties it is seamlessly with this excellent prequel story.
There are 3 levels of difficulty and I have played all 3 and the latest DLC (downloadable content), but be prepared to save often and reload - as there is always more than one way to solve a particular problem - which is where a lot of the fun is, all be it frustrating at times! This is a relatively non-linear RPG, but you will be guided in a forward direction and once you have got to certain points - you will not be able to go back, but it is to be expected with this type of RPG/FPS hybrid.
Overall, whether new to this genre and game series, or a returning veteran of both - this is a must have for any RPG lover and offers hours on enjoyment and thrilling action.
I remember when everyone was queuing up for the I-Phone 4 18months ago and I thought - No, I want to be different. So, I perused through the local phone store near work and found they had an exculsive - the Dell Streak. 16 Gb, great for storage; nice big screen, loads of great games on the Android market and they are a lot easier with the big Dell Screen - but that was one of the things I had to weigh up.....the SIZE.
If you want a nice petite phone, that will fit in your back/front pocket - this is not for you. However, if you are looking for that thing that is in between a phone and a tablet....Ladies and Gentlemen - we have a winner!! I LOVED MY DELL STREAK, I do a long commute into work and literally have enough time to watch a film. I love playing some of the touch based android free games such as gems and web browsing is a treat. Having such a large screen is a massive benefit and the resolution is crisp and clear. I will profess that that the weight and size can be a bit frustrating at times and it will need a daily charge if you are constantly using it, but worth it in my point of view. With regards to the size problem, that's what bags were designed for, to put stuff you want with you in!!!
Overall, if you are looking for a device for online browsing with the same experience as if you were using your laptop (just a bit more compact), looking at pictures of your treasured memories without squinting and a well fast processing speed, let alone the rest of the funky little things it can do too - plus when you start downloading android apps free/paid you will be impressed!!
In my humble opinion, you should go down to your nearest stockist and have a little play with it and if after the first 5min you are still thinking about the size and not how much it can do for you - then go start looking for anything on the market that can compete with this device on quality of screen size v. resolution, good storage and versatility of use with all standard expectations and available on a reasonable tariff free or to buy.