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alexela

alexela
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Member since: 31.05.2009

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    • Shakeaway / Soft Drink / 129 Readings / 127 Ratings
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      05.06.2010 12:41
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      Try one!

      There's been a Shakeaway in my local shopping centre for at least a couple of years now but until recently it was a store I just walked past. One day I decided to give it a go and now it's a regular stopping point whenever I have a trip out!

      Shakeaway is a milkshake shop, creating milkshakes using just about every flavour you can imagine! They've a list in their window and on their website with more flavours than I can actually count. There are fruity flavours, chocolaty flavours, sweetie flavours, biscuit flavours, cake flavours and even more!

      All the milkshakes are made with the actual flavour items, so if you order an apple milkshake, it's made with an apple, milk and ice cream, similarly the chocolate bars and biscuits are all blended the same way. You can ask for the milkshake to be made extra thick, which is where they add an extra scoop of ice cream. I actually prefer my milkshakes thicker, so this option is ideal for me. Definitely worth it for an extra 30p as it seems to make the milkshake last longer!

      I've tried a fair few of the flavours now - including the Kinder Bueno, lion bar, hazelnut chocolate chip cookie, Sugar Puff, Crunchy Nut Cornflake, Toblerone and even the Battenberg flavour! I know most people would find Battenberg a very odd flavour for a milkshake, but it was absolutely delicious.

      They also offer hot milkshakes, far more tasty than a coffee on a cold morning! Though I must admit the Daim bar hot shake I had once got a little sickly as I approached the end of the cup.

      My favourite milkshake though, would be Dave. It's a mix of Kinder Bueno, Fererro Rocher and a crumbled flake, it's very rich and does eventually get a little sickly, but the flavour is so strong it's absolutely worth it!

      The milkshakes are absolutely delicious; I've yet to find a flavour I don't like! I'm sure I might find one eventually but I think I've got a long way to go yet.

      The prices are very reasonable too. A medium milkshake is £2.80 and a large is £3.80. I know that looks like a lot at first glance but we actually tried making our own milkshakes one day and when you consider the costs of buying the chocolate bar or main flavour ingredient, the milk and the ice cream it's not that expensive in comparison at all!

      Alongside the main flavours there are all sorts of options you can add, from toppings to extra flavours to protein, malt, wheat germ and muscle builder. Personally I don't tend to add any of these extras but it's always good to have the option!

      They also offer a student and military discount of 10%. Discounts are always welcome! A loyalty card scheme is also offered, where you get 1 stamp for each medium shake and 2 for each large milkshake. You need to collect 10 stamps in total for a free medium milkshake. If you often find yourself getting a large shake as I do, then it won't take very long to get a freebie!

      Shakeaway's branding is bright and bold and you can't miss their stores. It's all very light hearted, the staff are friendly and there's a really good atmosphere in their stores. Going to get a milkshake from Shakeaway is a very pleasant experience, such that you don't even mind waiting a few extra minutes if it's very busy as it's all very upbeat. I thoroughly enjoy my visits here and will continue to go whenever I happen to go by!

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        29.05.2010 00:51
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        Strong first album from Alter Bridge

        Whilst the majority of the music I listen to would be considered to located somewhere in the genre of metal, I do like to occasionally stray away into a little bit of rock too (huge leap I know!). One band I particularly like is Alter Bridge, an American band whose line-up is essentially the original line-up of Creed but with a different singer - Myles Kennedy of Mayfield Four. One Day Remains is Alter Bridge's first album.

        Of course, one would assume borrowing so heavily from Creed's line-up that surely their sound must parallel that of Creed too. Well, maybe they do to some extent, after all Mark Tremonti's guitar work is a significant element in the song writing of both bands, but to write them off as mere Creed clone would be wrong. For the guitar work is edgier, the vocals pack a heavier punch and the overall sound is much fuller and richer than anything Creed ever pulled off!

        Opening track Find the Real opens with gritty heavy riff but leads into the verses quickly. The chorus is strong at catchy, the whole track has a very careful mix of elaborate guitar phrases and classic rock vocals, as such is works excellently as at no point does the track seem over indulgent in the talents of the individual band members, just working side by side for some great song writing.

        Title track One Day Remains continues on this path. The guitar motifs are insanely catchy, and really hold a strong pace throughout the track. It never stops moving. The vocals just soar above the accompaniment and the energy just doesn't stop. First single Open Your Eyes is toned down somewhat in comparison to the previous tracks. Things slow down a little bringing a more sensitive sound to the album yet the chorus throws the power back in there, it's pure single material, a good track, but by no means the best on the album.

        Burn it down, begins with a mellow opening with almost a very slightly bluesy feel and whilst that doesn't last, the mellow nature of the track certainly does. That said, it's a surprising full track and it does gradually build up as the song progresses. Truthfully I feel this song is probably a little long and doesn't have the pushing power to justify the length it is even with the build up.

        Metallingus brings back the heavier feel. The guitar has a grittier, thicker sound and the riffs are more pounding. The vocals also take a slightly grittier and darker sound in moments, alternating between that and the clearer sound that the album makes you familiar. It's a good track, but the verses just don't have enough strength to match up to that of the chorus, it's doesn't sound wrong, just not as strong as it could have been.

        Broken Wings slows down things for a moment. It's simple and calm, yet very melodic and emotive. The sound builds up and becomes ever more powerful, it's got quite a classic rock song feel, and is probably my favourite track on the album for its fantastically rich sound.

        In Loving Memory, is an even more emotional track, the vocals take the lead here and it's deep and powerful - it's the lighter (or mobile phone these days!) track of the album. Down to My Last picks up the pace again, with a very clear and clean sound. It's well chosen for the tracks it follows; it's not too heavy and contrasting to feel too much too soon, yet still brings back the thicker sounds the album begins with.

        The full on heavier nature of the album returns in watch your words. The delivery of this track is almost angry, yet there's clever use of contrasting calmness in the vocal bridge, this track certainly packs and punch, though the guitar solo section I feel is a little dragged out.

        Shed My Skin is another one of those oh-so-powerful chorus tracks. The verses are good too it's just the way the chorus soars over everything and deliver such a strong melody that makes it memorable alongside that sing-along ending. The aptly named The End is Here finishes off this album nicely with a slightly melancholic tone in the verses with a generally rather sinister sound. It's powerfully delivered and ends the album on a high note.

        I think the length of this album is just right, any more tracks and it might have started to drag a little. The album and song writing is very strong, it's just the style is rather full on and I feel it could be a little draining if this was any longer in length. Overall this album is just right in everyway, a pleasure to listen to!

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          21.05.2010 22:52
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          A tasty, quick meal that's great whether you're calorie counting or not

          Marks and Spencer's Count on Us Lemon and Ginger Chicken Curry is a dish that in the time I've known it has already come in several different forms. Previously known as simpler Lemon and Ginger chicken as listed here, it is fundamentally the same product, just with a bit of rebranding. The chicken curry form it currently takes is by no means the worst, but nor is it the best incarnation of it thus far.

          The curry itself is a fairly standard rice, chicken and sauce. The sauce is one of the principle things that has changed about this dish; it used to be much thicker and more substantial taste, whereas now, to fit in with the product name, it has been watered down somewhat to the more typical curry sauce consistency. There's still a lot of flavour there, it's very mild, not too hot for those who aren't a fan on spicy curries. I'd say this is probably even milder than a chicken korma! Taste is not sacrificed in the milder strength in any way though, the ginger is very much present, though the lemon is more of a background flavour, no where near as notable. You also have hints of red chilli, coriander and turmeric all bringing out the best of the dish.

          The chunks of chicken are a good size, most giving you about two mouthfuls which is delicious when covered in the curry sauce. The size of the chicken pieces if definitely something M&S have improved in this dish.

          Being a Count on Us dish, the low calorie content is something to be noted - 400 calories for this rather filling meal is pretty good I'd say. The one the M&S has let me down on though is the fact that this meal used to contain just enough veg in it to be counted towards one of your five a day. This is no longer the case, though they have given a recommendation of what to add to bring back this nutritional benefit.

          Things to note for allergy sufferers: this product does contain Cow's Milk and Mustard, and it also prepared in a factory using Nuts and Sesame ingredients.

          This is quite expensive for a ready meal; I think this was £2.99 the last time I looked, so it's certainly not the cheapest option available. It is however rather good and I would certainly recommend giving it a try!

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            11.05.2010 22:07
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            Strong second album from Sonata Arctica

            Silence is the second album by Finnish power metal band Sonata Arctica. After clearly defining their sound with debut Ecliptica, this album continues where it left off, pushing the boundaries of their icy power metal further. The songs are faster, heavier, creepier and stronger. In fact this album contains some of my favourite Sonata Arctica songs.

            Opening track ...Of Silence sets the tone of the album. A haunting piano backing beneath spoken word, so not a real track, but it builds the suspense for following track Weballergy, which is power metal gold. It's fast and those keyboards really take the melody to hand. The elocution has improved vastly from the previous album, so whilst the lyrics are just as fast, their a little clearer this time. The solos are just as mad as ever, definitely an excellent start!

            False News Travels Fast has a rather unusual introduction but it builds up the pace for when the guitars kick back in. Personally I don't feel this track is one of the best on the album, more of a filler between the previous track and the following one. It's got quite a nice tone and the chorus is just as lively as ever, I just can't get into this track as much.

            The End of this Chapter is one of my favourite Sonata Arctica songs and is actually the first song in a series that appears on several of their later albums telling a story of what here appears to be a stalker, (his identity and preceding events revealed on later albums). This song is exceptionally creepy but truly engrossing. The track begins with a spoken introduction which leads into a beautiful piano motif. The music builds up gradually as the story unfolds, becoming gradually darker and more aggressive. Creepy as it is, I think it's fantastic!

            Black Sheep is another track I just love from this album, it's very fast and on the live version they now change the first verse to something a little amusing. That said, the original is just as good. The melody is incredibly catchy given its speed; it's lively and very bouncy! Land of the Free on the other hand isn't quite as bouncy, but it's still just as powerful, exploring a range of tones from the more atmospheric with the keyboards, to the upbeat guitar work.

            Last Drop Falls slows things down a little, and is a far more emotive and moving track. The guitar work is toned down and allows the vocals to take centre stage nicely. Everything is toned down from the insanity of the earlier tracks providing a much needed respite!

            Sing in Silence has a dark atmosphere set by the keyboards, a simple set of chords until carefully sung lyrics join in. The whole track sustains this rather dark tone throughout, even though the chorus does pick up the energy a little more. San Sebastian however, returns us to the earlier pace we've grown familiar too. It's bright and speedy, typical Sonata style power metal at it's best.

            San Sebastian is another fast track, with a wonderfully bright keyboard opening, once again the guitar riffs are fast and the drumming would wear most people out, but the vocal lines are memorable and soaring. Revontulet follows in the same path, bright keyboard opening, though the main motifs are more melodic and varied in comparison, an excellent little instrumental track.
            Tallulah is a calmer, beautiful track. The piano takes the lead with the accompaniment whilst the vocals convey a carefully delivered emotive message. It's a much softer track, slower paced with simpler melodies, but it works well and doesn't seem out of place amongst Sonata Arctica's faster tracks.

            Wolf and Raven on the other had is full on super fast power metal. The guitar solo introduction is insanely fast, whilst the lyrics come across so fast you barely have a chance to take in what's going on. It's almost angry in its delivery yet the longer vocal passages during the chorus are like a short chance to catch your breath. It's intense and it represents exactly what this band does best.

            Closing track The Power of One is a long track that takes a while to get going. Silence with a calm guitar passage entering about 45 seconds in. There's use of spoken word create a dark atmosphere again but the sung vocals do eventually come in and the track eventually starts to come together with the pace picking up about 2 minutes in. Whilst the song is powerful and emotive, I do feel at points it is dragged out a little and doesn't have the same momentum as the rest of the album. That said I do really like the passage that begins at about 8.38 where there's much more vocal layering but still rather simple. I think it has a perfect closing atmosphere; it just takes too long getting there!

            Overall, I really like this album. Whilst it contains some of my favourite songs, I wouldn't say it's my favourite album. It's an excellent continuation from Ecliptica but not perfect by any means!

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              06.05.2010 14:04
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              Good for an occasional treat

              I am a huge fan of marzipan, whether is be marzipan fruits, in chocolate or even just lumps of the stuff on its own - I adore it! So spotting this in Tesco last week was a real find for me and I just had to go for it.

              Looking at the packaging you can see it's meant to be more of a premium chocolate, in red foil with gold and red writing on the label. The bar isn't very big either, only about 4 and a half inches long, so with the price being nearly £2 a bar (well, £1.80) this isn't something you'd have very often. If you're a marzipan addict like me, you're probably better off buying the blocks meant for icing cakes and cutting them up!

              Unwrapping the bar you essentially have what looks like a chocolate log, the chocolate itself is dark chocolate, which I actually prefer, though it is not particularly thick on the marzipan, so the bar doesn't end up to sweet and the chocolate doesn't overpower the strong marzipan flavour. The bar has a strong slightly bitter smell because of the dark chocolate; you can barely smell the marzipan until you bite into the bar.

              Once bitten in to, you can see and smell the marzipan, a pale yellow colour with a slight almond fragrance. Taste wise this bar is absolutely delicious, sweet and rich, with a very creamy, melt-in-the-mouth texture, but also slightly sticky as you would expect from marzipan.

              When you start eating it, this bar is very more-ish, though soon becomes a little sickly and I find it difficult to finish the entire bar at once, I can only get about halfway through the bar, which whilst frustrating also means the bar lasts much longer.

              This isn't something I would have too often because of the price and the sickliness; it is however a very satisfying treat and one I will definitely have again!

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                25.04.2010 21:50
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                Excellent showcase of Sonata Arctica's live show

                For the Sake of Revenge is the first live DVD from Sonata Arctica. Filmed in 2005 this DVD captures Sonata Arctica's powerful stage show with one of the most enthusiastic audiences on the planet.

                One of the things I really like about this DVD is they don't go overboard with the special effects. So many live DVDs it seems the editors discover a special button that adds special effects like different colouring or flames at the bottom of the screen. I personally don't like this one a DVD and fortunately there's none of this nonsense here. Just pure focus on the live actions of the band.

                Opening with Prelude for Reckoning the tension is allowed to build as we get to watch the audience warming up for the stage appearance, the gradual entrance of the band members is true to their typical live show, though on the DVD this does feel a little drawn out. Editing it out however, would have made things rather confusing!

                Bursting into first track Misplaced the energy explodes on the stage, band members running around everywhere. The performance is top quality and the live show more than lives up to the raw power conveyed by the track.

                There's a wide range of shots used, each capturing the actions well without being too jumpy. A problem with a lot of live DVDs is that they tend to cut from shot to shot before you've even had a moment to take stock of what was going on just a moment ago. Here the choice of shots is well chosen such that action is focused on as it happens, and changes of shots aren't too sweeping and tend to relate to each other a lot more clearly.

                There's plenty of interaction between the band and audience shown during and between the songs, it's not overdone so you're waiting for the next song to start, but it does convey the excellent interactions that take place and wonderfully conveys the atmosphere the audience brings to the show.

                Throughout the DVD, the sound is spot on. There's no muddy noise or overdone bass, the vocals are clear and the keyboards are bought out brilliantly even when just playing symphonic undertones.

                Full Moon I feel is shot particularly well, capturing each instrument in it's key moments so the pace and power of the track is well emphasised by the video and not forgetting that all important moment of the audience carrying the chorus 'Runaway, runaway, runaway'. The capture of the keyboard-guitar solo is spot on.

                Shamandalie is beautifully captured, simple shots yet very effective. The performance is top notch, calm and sensitive as to compliment the song. Kingdom for a Heart has an insane amount of running around but conveys well the excitability and energy of the live show. Replica slows things down to a calmer pace again allowing the cameras to pick up on some of Tony Kakko's eccentric facial expressions.

                The transition between The End of this Chapter and San Sebastian is wonderfully moody with the lighting and atmospheric sounds followed by the bright melodies of San Sebastian itself.

                There's a nice bit of crowd interaction shown between San Sebastian and Gravenimage. Typical of a Sonata Arctica live show, it's somewhat improvised but that's the fun of it, capturing the real spontaneity of the show.

                I'm somewhat disappointed they don't play the entirety of Gravenimage on the DVD as it's one of my favourite songs, but using it as a run in to Don't Say A Word does work brilliantly.

                The lighting isn't perfect and the stage does seem a little empty and underutilised at times, but overall I would say this is a good recording of Sonata Arctica live. With any luck these downsides may be dealt with on the new DVD they have recently announced they will be recording later this year.

                As for DVD extras, well there is an audio commentary by the band but it is in Finnish, so unless you're fluent, it's probably not much in the way of an extra at all, which I feel is a great shame as often audio commentaries can prove quite entertaining. There are no subtitles either, so that's a bit of a write off unless you've got the time to learn a whole new language (and not one that's too easy to learn either!)

                There are also short biographies on the band members in the front of brief text interviews; similarly the discography up until Reckoning Night is also included. Personally I don't feel this adds anything to the DVD at all, just filler, but maybe someone out there finds it useful!

                There is one redeeming extra however, the short documentary entitled 'The men of the north in the land of the rising sun' following the band's movements around Japan around the show. It's very light-hearted yet there are moments that are definitely not for the feint-hearted. There's typical rock band stuff, drinking and partying and fortunately you actually get to understand what's being said this time as there are subtitles for the Finnish moments and some of it is even in English! It's all very entertaining and a worthwhile extra I feel!

                Overall this is a very entertaining DVD. A must for any Sonata Arctica fan, especially anyone who hasn't yet had the chance to see them live yet as it proves an excellent taste as to what they do.

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                  19.04.2010 11:31
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                  Satisfying alternative snack

                  I'm guilty of loving the occasional meaty snack and beef jerky is one snack that satisfies my craving perfectly. It's not something I would have too often, as even though it does highlight the fact it is low in fat, I somehow don't think it is better than having a piece of fruit or yoghurt for a snack! But sometimes, you need something meaty and chewy, and this Wild West original beef jerky really hits the spot.

                  For those who don't know, beef jerky is thin slices of beef that has been dried out and seasoned. The Wild West beef has also been marinated and its primary seasoning is pepper. Though for the original jerky there is a lot less pepper than on the peppered jerky.

                  The original beef jerky comes in a bright red packet with an image of a cowboy on horseback, an image you would strongly associate with the Wild West. The logo and product name is in white writing and it is overall very distinctive and easily recognisable.

                  When it comes to the taste, the beef whilst it is dried still has a reasonable moist texture as you chew it. You do get some pieces that are more chewy than others but every piece is has a very strong flavour. The more you chew the stronger the beef flavour comes through, though the pepper can also hit quite hard.

                  Unlike some beef jerky's this product doesn't leave a salty aftertaste at all, instead depending on the piece you get you either get quite a nice strong beef aftertaste or a rather peppery after taste. Both of these are delicious to me, but I can see why some people wouldn't appreciate the strength of the pepper.

                  This product can be spotted all over the place; I've seen it in Sainsbury's, Tesco's and WHSmiths though it's not cheap. I believe it's around £2 for a 57gram pack, so not cheap at all and definitely an occasional treat. That said, it is at least not too heavy on the calories, at 161 per pack, which considering how long it takes to get through a pack is rather good. So no harm in giving it a go then!

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                    13.04.2010 13:11
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                    Decent album, worth a listen

                    Crows Fly Back is from Finnish heavy metal band Tarot, formed over 20 years ago by the Hietala brothers, Zachary and Marco, the latter of whom has featured in many well Finnish metal bands, including the more widely known bands Sinergy and Nightwish. Whilst Tarot is a metal band, they are not the same sort of style as either of these bands, more just straight up heavy metal and Crows Fly Back reinforces this with an added dark side.

                    Crows Fly Back is the first Tarot album featuring Tommi Salmela as a second vocalist, relieving bassist Marco Hietala of some of his vocal duties. Truth be told, the vocal styles of these two singers are not hugely different and there are moments where you wouldn't necessarily know which of the two are singing unless you recognise each individual voice particularly well.

                    Opening track Crows Fly Back has a very dark atmospheric opening before diving straight into strong heavy riffs, crunching away until Hietala's vocals come in. I personally feel that it's the use of the keyboards that create that dark sound for this track, the alternating of vocals between Hietala and Salmela adds further layering leaving this piece will an very eerie feel.

                    Traitor picks up the pace a little and is a more energetic track. The chorus is punchier, keyboards are faster and the vocals sound angrier, though I feel the solos in the middle of the track could have been a little more creative, they just seem to stay in rather safe territory.

                    Ashes to the Stars keeps up the pace but brings back those haunting atmospheric keyboards. The rhythm is pounding and well defined and the bridge and chorus very memorable without being insanely catchy. There's building momentum in the song that always resolved well without being annoyingly predictable.

                    Messenger of Gods again has another slightly spooky, atmospheric opening, and the vocals are just as aggressive and urgent as before but contrast with the smoother phrases in chorus well. I quite like the keyboard motif in the background during the chorus as it really adds to the power of this track.

                    Before the Skies come down isn't quite as dark as track as those before it. The guitar work feels a little more upbeat and relaxed. It's not exactly a joyful track, but it's a little more interesting, the phrasing is a little funkier and the solos are a little more varied with the keyboards even having a bit of a solo too.

                    Tides is probably my least favourite track on this album. Whilst the opening keyboards and vocals is a nice break from the heavier guitars, sounding a lot more mournful, this track simply doesn't have the momentum of the rest of the album and bores me a little.

                    Bleeding Dust picks up the pace again though, with a thrash style guitar opening, the vocals are rougher and more spiteful, though the change of tone about two minutes in makes it all a lot darker, so whilst the aggression is lost, there's still a haunting menace in this track that makes it an excellent listen.

                    You, however, is my favourite track on this album, it's bouncy, it's lively and very catchy. The chorus is very strong and memorable, the guitar work is more upbeat and the keyboards really add a subtle extra layer to it all without being obtrusive to the main features of the track at all.

                    Howl! Breaks the tension a little with an acoustic guitar opening, whilst the keyboards build up a slightly tense atmosphere behind. It's got a bit of a different feel to the other tracks on the album, structured a little differently, that said, the power is definitely there, just a little slower than before.

                    Closing track Grey is a rather good choice for a final track, the keyboards and vocals are just as haunting as the first track, the guitars just as thick and crunchy as earlier songs on the album. It's not got the same catchiness or liveliness as other songs but I think this is why it's a good closer; it's calmer and takes the album full circle.

                    Overall I wouldn't say this album is particularly innovative, but I like the dark sound it has going and there's a lot of good tracks that I like to listen to. It's not amazing, but definitely good and worth a listen as it's simply a good metal album.

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                    • Kinder Bueno Eggs / Chocolate / 147 Readings / 143 Ratings
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                      08.04.2010 21:03
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                      I hope they bring these back next year!

                      With Easter just past us, I luckily received these delicious little eggs as an Easter gift and I'm fairly sure that whilst I may still have more chocolate than I can possibly eat left, these eggs are my favourite gift this Easter. So much so, that my absolute delight about them has driven me to write this review to share the joy of these tasty little treats with you!

                      They only come in a small pack containing 10 eggs, it's a 100g bag with each egg being 10g, so a very good small treat. The Kinder branding is easily recognisable, the mainly white packaging with a splash of red at the bottom, with an image of the contents of the eggs on the front.

                      Each egg is individually wrapped in gold foil, so for my first mouthful I carefully unwrapped my little egg, for they are only about 3cm by 2cm in size, had a sniff, from which you could already smell that wonderful nutty chocolate fragrance and with my mouth watering, I took a bite. Needless to say, I was very pleased by the taste.

                      The chocolate around the egg is a little bit like that of the Kinder surprise eggs, a layer of milk chocolate on top of a layer of white chocolate both tasting distinctively milky. Underneath that, there's a thin wafer in which is held a deliciously soft and creamy hazelnut filling. It's by no means overbearing, it's not a very strong taste, the mix is actually just right.

                      The chocolate and hazelnut filling melts in the mouth slowly whilst the wafer disintegrates making the texture of the egg very similar to that of the actual Bueno bar. That said, I'd actually liken the taste to something in between the Kinder Bueno and Kinder's Happy Hippo biscuits.

                      Kinder Bueno bars are probably one of my favourite chocolate treats, so I did expect to like these eggs, I just didn't nearly expect them to taste half as good as they do! I can't recommend these enough, with Easter now over, you may be lucky and find some of these discounted in a supermarket. If you are not so lucky however, be sure to keep an eye out for these next year, as you won't be disappointed!

                      Calorie content isn't something you'll want to spend too much time looking at however, 57 calories for just one of these tiny eggs suggests you probably don't want to wolf down the entire packet too quickly. For the one though, it's definitely worth it!

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                        03.04.2010 13:17
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                        Probably the most entertaining album released in years!

                        Steel Panther are what can only be described as a parody heavy metal band, taking influences largely from the 80s era metal band in both the music, and the dress sense! Feel the Steel is the first album they've released under the Steel Panther name having released an album six years earlier until the name 'Metal Shop'.

                        As soon as you start playing this album you know this isn't a band that takes themselves to seriously, think every mad metal cliché into one then take it one step further and you might be vaguely close to what Feel the Steel is like. As for the lyrical content, well you're probably best finding out for yourself but similes or metaphors are definitely not something this band does. It's blunt, it's shameless and it's also rather explicit!

                        Let's start with opener Death to All but Metal, they music is very much 80s style heavy metal, catchy as anything, guitar led but the vocals really shine through and what they have to say... well, death to all but metal and insulting everything else in between, this is definitely not for the feint hearted! It's hilariously catchy and you're going to find yourself wanting to dance around to it.

                        Next track Asian Hooker, well who wants to take a guess what that's about? Musically they play it very well, a very oriental style melody going on over the guitar riffs as the track opens and the track does stray into slightly heavier territory during the bridge, but once again it's all over hook led catchy stuff!

                        Community Property is a very traditional rock ballad, opening with the acoustic guitar riff, it's a lighter in the air track, love song lyrics and all, and gradually building up as the song progresses, it's soft and emotive and the use of strings is a nice touch though nothing particularly innovative and the lyrical content - I'll leave it to you to find out what exactly is community property!

                        Eyes of a Panther takes it up a notch, as nice speedy riff to start things off, with obligatory 80's wooooaaaahs over the top! It's fast paced an excellent sing a long track. There's everything you'd expect from a 80's styles rock song, high pitched vocals and strong rhythm and well defined melody and wailing guitar solo. It's wonderfully clichéd but it's brilliant and the lyrical content is probably the least explicit out of all the tracks on the album!

                        Fat Girl (Thar She Blows!) has a whole story in the song and well, it's once again very amusing! Musically, it's like a classic rock single, not too faced paced and very much in sing along style again. The synths underneath the vocals just before three minutes in the song really allow the vocals to take centre stage as do the unobtrusive guitar riffs.

                        Eatin' ain't Cheatin' is far catchier than it should be considering the blatantness of the lyrical content. It's hilarious and you probably don't want to find yourself singing to yourself whilst out and about! It's still classic rock melodies, nothing innovative, but very, very catchy!

                        Party All Day has a keyboard opening and a more synth led feel, but it is very much a song that you will be singing along to, it's even more catchier than the previously mentioned songs, it'll stuck in your head for far too long! Its attitude led rock and is again full of clichés, but whist it's nothing new, it's still not boring.

                        Turn out the Lights is another amusing track, again with guitar riff that could have come straight out of the 80's. It sounds sleazy and it matches up with the lyrical content pretty well! It's got a slightly heavier and darker tone than the previous tracks, but it still definitely fits the albums feel.

                        Stripper Girl, well once again, what it's about is self explanatory, musically, it slows down a bit. A sort of love song on the acoustic guitar, which again builds up for a powerful ballad chorus. It's not as catchy or memorable as other tracks on this album, more a late album filler track. The Shocker, I feel also suffers from late album filler syndrome. Okay, it's typical stadium rock, but it just feels boring compared to earlier to tracks on the album. It's not bad, but just doesn't have the same momentum.

                        Girl from Oklahoma is another acoustic track; it's actually got quite nice little rhythm going and a very slightly bluesy feel. It's a very soft and simple track letting the lyrics do the talking, which are just as hilariously explicit as ever.

                        Closing track Hell's on Fire has a crunchier sound and yet the classic 80s keyboard contrasts with the rough guitars well. It's real kicking ballsy rock n roll track and definitely an excellent closer for this album.

                        Overall, what can I say? If this album doesn't have you wanting to backcomb your hair and don full on 80s glam style outfits and dance around then someone's taken away your fun setting! It's brilliant, it's fun, it's hilarious and probably mildly offensive, but if you take it with a pinch of salt, I'd say you're going to have a laugh at this album!

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                          29.03.2010 18:43
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                          Does the job without being overpriced!

                          I'd consider myself quite lucky in that I've never seriously had any serious problem with dandruff, however, when the weather started to get colder my scalp started to feel rather itchy and whilst not really a visible problem, a slight scratch of my head would reveal a fair few more flakes of dead and dry skin than I would have liked. Hence I decided to see what I could do about it.

                          The first thing I decided to invest in was the much advertised Head and Shoulders Shampoo. I went for the classic clean as otherwise my hair is in reasonably good condition, I don't colour it, nor do I subject it to regular heat strains like straightening so I figured classic clean was the safest way to go.

                          The bottle still has the traditional blue and white Head and Shoulders logo that's very distinctive, you couldn't miss it on the supermarket shelves even with the plethora of different brands that are out there now!

                          Opening the bottle, the shampoo itself does still have the blue colouring to it that seems very much associated with the brand, though the slight medicated smell of it is no longer there, just a very slight smell, that is by no means overpowering and doesn't linger around on the hair. It's not a particularly fresh or floral smell and reminds me a little bit like the smell of a hairdressers shop without being nearly as strong.

                          The shampoo itself lathers up nicely, without having to use too much, and rinses out very easily too. On the first couple of occasions I used it, I used the shampoo twice, just so it felt more like the shampoo was oing it's job and I was getting a thorough clean, however, now just once does the job.

                          It terms whether it works - I'd say it's been a success. The dryness and slight flakiness are gone so I'm very pleased. I've gone from using this every time I wash my hair, to about once a week and everything is still flake free.

                          The only issue I would have with this shampoo is that when I use it, my hair seems to feel greasier much sooner. It's not a visible problem, but it does feel a little unpleasant and I'm reluctant to wash my hair even more often for fear of it becoming a vicious circle where I'm washing my hair twice a day because the grease builds up too quickly! However, that small problem aside, I'm very satisfied with this product!

                          Price wise it's very reasonable too. I picked up a 200ml bottle of this at first for just under £2 from Sainsbury's. The bigger bottles are a bit more, but last for absolutely ages, so well worth the price.

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                          • Nestle Lion Bar / Chocolate / 164 Readings / 158 Ratings
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                            16.03.2010 10:45
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                            Delicious chocolate snack

                            When I was a kid, Lion bars were always my favourite chocolate. There is so much to them they are a very satisfying snack and even though they've changed a bit a fair few times since I was a child, I do still often go for them remembering my fondness the crunchy chewiness of this chocolate bar.

                            The Lion bar has a rather distinctive packaging, the brown and yellow wrapping with a roaring lion and the 'Lion' logo written in yellow and red. It's quite a sizeable bar, about six inches long, which is why I think it is so satisfying as a snack, you definitely feel like you're getting your moneys worth.

                            Now, I'm not really a fan of Nestle chocolate by itself, I find it rather bland, but in the Lion bar it works excellently as there are several flavours to it and it's more the texture of the ingredients that make it such a pleasure to eat. Biting in to the bar you've got the chocolate, the cereal pieces, the caramel and the wafer which is how you get that first crunch followed by the chewiness as the chocolate starts to melt and the wafer breaks up until all you're left with a bit of the caramel.

                            I think the only thing I don't like about this chocolate bar is the fact that the caramel can get stuck in your teeth a little, so definitely not one if you've got to be showing off your teeth soon after. Nor is it one to be having if you're on a diet - at 277 calories a bar there are a lot of chocolate treats out there to be had out there that will do a lot less damage!

                            I picked this up for just under 50p at Tesco last week, though I do recall it was also part of a buy 3 for £1 offer. I'd certainly recommend giving it a try, though I wouldn't say it's for everyone. That said, you don't know until you try - so go try it!

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                              13.03.2010 18:37
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                              An excellent debut

                              Ecliptica is the first album by Finnish power metal group Sonata Arctica in which they forge their trademark icy, arctic, power metal sound; a sound that is still very much associated with the band today, even with their progression into thicker, warmer sounds. By many fans, this album is still considered their best work because of the raw sound and fast paced melodies that really drive this album.

                              Opening track 'Blank File' sets the pace, with a fast drum intro before we run head first into speedy guitar riffs and vocals that soar above the other instruments carrying a melody that haunts the rest of the track, creating an increased atmospheric sound for the track. The only possible let down would be that with the speed of the lyrics the enunciation seems to disappear so grasping the verses at least is pretty tricky! Otherwise this track is very much trademark Sonata Arctica, with the changes in tone later in the track and increasing presence of keyboards throughout the track.

                              Second track My Land has a guitar intro that's so full of melody and power it will be stuck in you head for weeks. Unlike Blank File, it's much easier to catch of the lyrics this time and it'll be very hard after a few listens to not sing along - over emphasised power metal hand gestures et all. It's the guitar melodies that lead this song, the vocals give the song it's meaning however, picking up when the guitar starts to carry the rhythm. It's powerful, it's chilling, and it's a Sonata Arctica classic.

                              8th Commandment is another track that pretty much defines Sonata Arctica, not quite as catchy as My Land or later track Fullmoon; it's still a song that's instantly recognisable as their style. It's very fast paced and again, clarity in the lyrics isn't really a key element of this song at all, the vocals act more as an additional instrument. But once again, you'll hit that gliding chorus where everything becomes clearer and then straight into another blistering guitar and keyboard solo.

                              Replica slows the pace down a little - well you probably need it! Don't go thinking this is your typical ballad however; the guitar work is still impeccable and continuously moving. There's a lot of depth to this track with all the layers going on contrasting with the emptiness of the lyrics, the track remains surprisingly upbeat considering the slightly cold mournful tone of the lyrics.

                              Kingdom For A Heart picks up the pace again. By now, you'll know what to expect, fast guitars and keyboards with soaring vocals over the top. The keyboard is significantly more audible in this track and it's gives the track a sort of old-fashioned feel, which works with the cold atmosphere that runs throughout this album.

                              Fullmoon is the track that for me makes this album. It's catchy, has a beautiful piano intro and powerful emotive lyrics opening the song. As the guitars kick in, the energy really starts to build, it's bouncy, it's lively and the chorus will be stuck in your head in no time. The vocals soar across the guitar chords and convey such raw energy that this song is one you'll find yourself definitely wanting to jump around to whilst adding your own 'Runaway, runaway, runaway' to the chorus.

                              Letter to Dana changes the tone again, a flute leading the introduction here, a calm and simple introduction for a song where the story it tells is the leading feature. The melodies are rich and powerful, yet much more subtle in comparison to earlier tracks. It's slower, but there's much more in way of building chords and short guitar melodies that alternate with the main rhythm.

                              Unopened returns to the speedier side of things once again, keyboards taking the lead this time, fast paced melodies galore. Not quite as memorable as many of the other tracks on this album, however, the chord progressions are distinct and the chorus just as catchy. The keyboard/guitar solo on this track has a wonderfully raw sound to it, which gives the song rather sharp tone that works very nicely.

                              Picturing the Past, is once again, not as memorable as preceding tracks, I think this album suffers slightly from dragging slightly at the end. That said, the overall sound of the track is quite interesting, it's not quite as bouncy and happy as earlier tracks, nor is it melancholy or doomy at all. The fast pace is still there, but the track has a slightly darker tone to it.

                              Closing track, Picturing the Past has an opening that is rather different to the rest of the album, an atmosphere electric feel, though we're soon back to the guitar solos. There's a lot of building chords and vocals and a very strong pulse in this track. The solos are pushing on as fast as you can get them, the track is busy, yet not so much it's just noise, it's like a building pressure gaining excitement, until the track slows down and has a real album closing feel. At over 7 minutes long, this track pulls a few surprises without dragging itself along.

                              I'd definitely say this was a fantastic debut album to be released for Sonata Arctica, crafting out a strong sound that they gradually develop, without remaining too samey to grow old very quickly. Ecliptica's artwork reflects the tone of the album too and is an ideal introduction to the music of Sonata Arctica.

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                                04.03.2010 23:27
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                                A must try!

                                Whilst I am a huge fan of Cadbury's chocolate, sometimes I want something with a little more to it than just plain old chocolate. Fortunately Cadbury's has catered for this with a whole range of bars with added bits, though my favourite would have to be Dairy Milk Whole Nut as this bar mixes together two of my favourite flavours - chocolate and hazelnut.

                                As per usual with a dairy milk bar, the main branding is the familiar purple background with the white logo; however the whole nut variety also has a brown swish coming underneath the main logo to indicate the fact it's a whole nut bar. Also pretty visible is the calorie content - a whopping 270 calories for a 49 gram bar. To me this seems like an awful lot for a chocolate bar, though I expect it is due to the added nuts. It does however emphasise the treat nature of this chocolate - certainly not ideal as a daily snack!

                                Opening the wrapping you can clearly see the chunks of hazelnut in the bar at the bottom and at the top it is divided in to the usual six dairy milk segments. Biting in to the bar - which involves a little more bite than a normal dairy milk you immediately get that distinctive dairy milk chocolate flavour, my personal favourite chocolate. However, this time you've also got the hint of hazelnut. As the chocolate starts to melt in your mouth, the hazelnut flavour becomes all that bit more prominent and once the chocolate has melted away, you're left with the pieces of hazelnut which really add a bit more variety to the flavour and texture.

                                I find this chocolate bar absolutely delicious and a fair bit more satisfying than the just chocolate variety, though it isn't particularly filling or sickly, so I could see myself eating a fair bit more if I had a bigger bar - not something I believe the rest of my body would appreciate!

                                I picked this up for 40p in Tesco's the other day, which I would definitely say is good value. For fans of Cadbury's chocolate and hazelnuts, I'd say this is a definite must.

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                                  26.02.2010 12:06
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                                  Great album

                                  Sing Along Songs for the Damned and Delirious is the second album by the Swedish avant-garde metal sextet Diablo Swing Orchestra. As you may be able to guess by both the album title and the band name, Diablo Swing Orchestra is not your typical metal band, they certainly don't shy away from using traditional orchestral instruments alongside heavy guitars, or even to lead the piece entirely.

                                  When it comes to song structures, once again this album strays from the more traditional structures for popular songs, with tracks being based upon more classical structures, swing rhythm true to the band name featuring alongside waltz and Tango-esque rhythms.

                                  That said, the songs are not so unusual that they loose all sense of catchiness. Sing Along Songs may be a slight exaggeration unless you have a particularly well trained operatic voice! But these songs do have incredible hooks and vocals melodies that really grab the ear and there are a fair few points where you'll pick up the words very quickly and at least attempt to sing along!

                                  The souring operatic vocals of Annlouice Wolgers fit perfectly with the deeper rumbling vocals of Daniel Håkansson which adds to the sheer insanity of the combination Diablo Swing Orchestra creates on Sing Along Songs for the Damned and Delirious, a very apt title it could be said!

                                  Stand out tracks for me would be A Rancid Romance - quite an angry yet wonderfully arranged track that is Diablo Swing Orchestra's madness at it's best and A Tap Dancers Dilemma, an incredibly catchy swinging track that impressively contrasts the use of the orchestral and guitars, with vocal melodies that could send shivers down your spine.

                                  I would heartedly recommend this album as something unlike anything you've heard before!

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