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The first time that I practised yoga was about a year or so before it came into the media spotlight. Unfortunately the class was at 7am in the morning on a wednesday and due to my inability to face the cold mornings in the winter, I gave it up after a couple of months. Fast forward to about a year ago. Inspired by Geri Halliwells fantastic transformation I decided to take up yoga again. I looked at the timetable in my local gym and found out that they did Iyengar classes 3 evenings a week and so decided to give it a go. Iyengar is a modern form of yoga and you have probably seen pictures of Miss Halliwell and co on a beach in such postures as 'downward dog' , 'sun salutation' or 'warrior pose'. As I found out, it is vital that you connect well with your yoga teacher and unfortunately I did not feel comfortable with the instructors method of teaching and found the classes very elitist. Think back to when you were at school and sitting next to the 'teachers pet' and you will have some idea of what I mean. I did struggle on for a few months with these classes, but what is the benefit of a holistic form of excercise if you do not feel relaxed in the classes? About 5 months ago I was talking to a friend from work and she mentioned that she practised a very ancient form of yoga called Swastia yoga. It sounded so different from the modern yoga that I had been used to so I decided to accompany her to a class (which is based in Greenwich) to see for myself what it was like. Firstly, the class was longer that I was used to (an hour and a half) and was done in semi-darkness and with relaxing music playing. For the first ten minutes or so we sat and did some yogic breathing excercises whilst the teacher spoke soothingly to us about the practise and how it would benefit both body and mind. After the breathing excercises we started the postures. They involved more manipulation of the spine and more fluidity than the modern versions of yoga, but the emphasis was not on flexibility and the teacher encouraged us to work within our limits rather than trying to force our bodies to do something that didn't feel natural. In a flash, it seemed, we were onto the last part of the practice which involved some more breathing excercises and preparation to finish the practise which brought us back into the reality of our surroundings. I cannot describe how much better I felt after the class. My mind felt much clearer, and although the class was physically demanding and I did feel achy afterwards, my body did feel better aligned and my posture felt more natural and in a way more relaxed. I have been attending the classes every Thursday now for quite a few months. What is great about the teacher is that her whole life is yoga. She is Brazillian and spent quite a few years of her life learning the practise with old gurus in an ashram in India. She really believes in what she is teaching and has taught us how to apply the practise to everyday life. As a result, my skin has got a lot clearer and more evenly toned and I do not get so stressed about the everyday annoyances. Yes my body has changed shape, my muscles are longer and leaner and I no longer suffer from niggling minor ailments such as colds and aches and pains. I attribute all of this to yoga. I encourage you to try it out as yoga is for all ages, male and female. It may take you a while (like me) to find the right class and yoga type for you, but if you persevere I'm am sure that you will also find your life more enriched as I have. For those of you who have read this far, a little tip that I learned from last night; Try not to wear trainers as they cushion your feet too much and throw your pelvis out of alignment which can cause back pain. Better to wear a wide shoe with a harder sole (of course, you will need trainers for aerobic exce rcise). When at home try and go barefoot as much as possible. Thanks for reading.
You may have seen the billboards with Australian hunk Heath Ledger and the slogan He will rock you. You may have heard Robbie Williams' cover of the song of the same name. But should you go and see A Knight's Tale you will find a good piece of escapism cinema, hilariously funny in places and great acting by some of the cast. Because of the enormity of the publicity machine that was Moulin Rouge, this film has not been hyped much in the media. There is no big name stars in the cast (although this could well be Heath Ledger's big break) with the main parts being cast to British actors more known for their theatre work such as Rufus Sewell and Paul Bettany. Some may remember Ledger from Ten things I hate about you or as Heather Graham's ex boyfriend, or maybe as a cameo role in the Australian soap Home and Away. He is only nineteen years old but is already showing signs of being 'The next Leonardo Dicaprio' . The film is billed as a romantic comedy and the story is about a commoner (Ledger) who tends to a knight who is a great jouster. When the knight dies before a last important joust, William Thacker (Ledger) pretends to be him and fights in his place so as to win the prize money. Of course, he wins the match, and persuades his two sidekicks to invest the money in some training tools so as to be able to fight in more contests and win more money. So this is what he does to great success. His patent of nobility is drawn up by Chaucer, a struggling English writer whom he meets on a road, butt naked, and Chaucer agrees to help in return for some clothes. William Thacker becomes Sir Ulrick von Lichtenstein. Being a romantic comedy, the story wouldn't be complete without a love interest, and this comes in the shape of Josephine. Another Model turned actress ( I can't think of her name) all she really is, is eye candy, her acting isn't really anything special. And, of course, a love int erest wouldn't be complete without a love rival (Rufus Sewel) whose smouldering good looks are just right for a big screen villian. Things do not go exactly according to plan when Sewel finds out that Thacker is not really a knight (only nobles can compete in the jousting) but I will not give away any more of the plot by revealing more. Those who studied English Literature to A level or above will get the Chaucerian jokes, but even those who didn't will appreciate the film as a pleasant escape from reality. Bettany truely deserves a Best supporting actor award for his portrayal of Chaucer, but I doubt if this will be reflected in the Oscar nominations next year. As far as I am concerned, he was the star of the show. If you are not keen on the medieval era, or jousting then you will probably still enjoy the film (and the eighties soundtrack). I went in thinking that it would probably be average and came out pleasantly surprised. At two and a half hours in length, some of the beginning scenes could probably do with being cut, but that is a small criticism for a good, light hearted film. So let Heath Ledger rock you - you may well enjoy it!!
Baz Luhrman may be most known for the criticly acclaimed William Shakespeares Romeo and Juliet, but that is all soon about to change with the arrival of his latest project, Moulin Rouge. Probably his most ambitious film to date and loved by the critics at a showing at Cannes film festival last year, the story is about a penniless writer (played by Ewan Mcgregor) who falls in love with a beautiful courtesan (Nicole Kidman), but alas, their love is doomed as she is promised exclusively to an evil Duke, who holds the deeds to the Moulin Rouge and is investing a great deal of money in turning it into a proper Theatre. To simplyfy the story to this extent would be to do it a great injustice, however it is Luhrman's style that really brings this film into the five star catagory. It could easily pick up 6 or 7 oscar nominations at next years awards and is certainly what I would consider as breakthrough cinema. The use of music from all era's has been criticised by some critics but I feel that it really worked to great effect. Examples that spring to mind include Elton John's Your Song and Madonna's Like a Virgin, also featured were hit songs from musicals such as The Sound of Music. Both Kidman and Mcgregor proved their talent in singing nearly as much as their acting talent. The lavish costumes worn by Satine (Kidman) and other courtesans from the Moulin Rouge set the screen alight almost as brightly as the chemistry between the two leads. Corsetry can be found in Soho boutique Agent Provocatuer for a similar look, but it is not cheap!! The views of Paris and the Monmartre district are spectacular, the dancing and choreography superb (condsidering Kidman fractured her ankle twice during filming the elabourate dance sequences), the stylistic vision that is such a characteristic of Luhrman's films was spot on (although for me, attempting to do a similar thing with Romeo and Juliet wasn't quite so sucessful) b ut the highlight of the film had to be Nicole Kidman. Although originally I wasn't sure if she would be right for the role, she played the part to perfection and certainly deserves an Oscar. A memorable line for me was when she quipped "There may be a time when a lady may be in need of a lawyer" must have been said with relish considering that it was during this time that she and Tom Cruise were divorcing. The great thing about this film is that Luhrman has not produced your typical Hollywood blockbuster for the masses, he hasn't sacrificed art for saleability and that has certainly paid off as the film is sure to do great business at the box office - whether you love it or hate it. And with Luhrman there is certainly no middle ground, it is not a film that you will come out thinking - 'well, that was okay' - it will definitely provoke a reaction. It has been said that this is a film for gay men and women and although I can see why (it is quite camp) I went with a heterosexual male and he enjoyed it nearly as much as me. It really could belong on the stage rather than on the silver screen and the use of Stanislavky's 'audience watching a play within a play' technique certainly made it seem a lot like theatre. I won't give away the ending, although many newspaper articles already have, but suffice to say that it is an emotional rollercoaster filled with moments that will make you both laugh and cry (as a good film should do).Take lots of tissues with you for what I consider to be the best film this year so far.
I went to see this film on Sunday......with low expectations, I thought it would just be your standard Hollywood glossy rubbish...pretty to look at but not much substance. Boy, was I surprised. I haven't laughed quite so much in ages! The film stars Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love-Hewitt as a mother and daughter con artist team. Max (Weaver as the mother) seduces rich old men and gets them to marry her, whilst Page (Love-Hewitt as her daughter) then seduces them at a point when she knows max will catch them. Divorce follows and a nice big Alimony cheque....then onto the next sucker. What a great ploy! To sum the film up as just this would be to do it a great injustice......there are some great twists and turns and some real laugh out loud moments. Love-Hewitt proves that she can rise above the standard 'I know what you did last summer' teen flicks whilst Weaver proves at, even at over 50 (an age when most Hollywood careers would be over) she still has what it takes to make men weep. The men in this film do seem to be potrayed as quite dumb (very true to life then - lol!) so I wouldn't be at all surprised if it was directed by a female......this film is true girl-power....not the sugary stuff that the spice girls were made of. If you liked What Women Want and American Pie...you will like this film as it is pretty much a cross between the two. It is really a chick-flick.....but men will probably like it because of Love-Hewitt's miniscule outfits (they seem to get shorter and shorter throughout the film) and if only to get an idea of how to spot a gold-digger (not sure that you should really take a man to see it!!). As always, things do not go smoothly (there wouldn't be a film there if they did) and Page falls in love with one of their victims, Max meets her match, in more ways than one...but luckily for the two unlikely hero's things all work out perfectly in the end. The film does descend into slapstick occaisionally, perhaps going a little over the top....but I will forgive it that because mostly it was superb entertainment......and I do like a film that proves that you can be a bitch and win!
Welcome to planet Bluewater.......Only the most elite of Kent and Essex make it here as the road signs are designed to confuse you! Once you enter the spaceship-like exterior you will be transported to another galaxy......a world where plastic is the key, greed is good and pennypinchers are an evil breed. There are lots of different species, all living in harmony on our planet....I shall introduce a few. GucciGirls and GucciGuys - These inhabit the designer boutique areas such as Sarah Coggles for avantgarde designers, Joseph and the likes, Envy for the more mainstream Ralph Lauren, Deisel, Iceberg, DKNY etc PotionPrincesses - Indigeonous to Sephora....these ladies rarely venture outside this homage to everything glittery for the face and body, but when they do, they head for t he big Boots, and the smaller emporiums such as SpaceNK, L'occitane and The Perfume Shop. GadgetGuys - Can be found wandering happily through the likes of Dixons, Gadget Shop and indeed any store with 'Computer' in the title. Have been described as 'speccy' or 'geeky' but harmless enough. Cheapfreaks - This particular breed are very frowned upon on planet Bluewater. They come with only a tenner in their pockets and are not choosy about with rail they rummage through as long as it has a big red sale sign above it. They come out with bargain tops for three pounds, cheap cosmetics and anything from the 70% off discontinued lines. FoodhallFillers - This breed is mostly male but there are some females. They come to planet Bluewater under the pretext of shopping but really just want to try out as many of the restaurants, cafes, Juice Bars and Snack bars as they can. Luckily it will take them a while to get through all the different culinary delights, as we have everything ranging from Burgers to Icecream to Pizza to Milkshakes to Sweets and everything inbetween. Homebodies - This breed may have just bought a new home on planet Earth and have descended on our planet to furnish their new abodes. The temporarilly reside in the huge Habitat, Jerrys Home Store, Debenhams, House of Fraser, BHS, Allders....you get the picture! Of course this is just a selection of the various Bluewater lifeforms.....they all come under the generic title of Shoppers. That is unless you count the CinemaGoers...who usually only come out when all the shops have closed and fill up the over 12 huge Cinemas. Their diet consists mainly of popcorn and diet Pepsi......strange types! Please come and visit our planet ......it can be found just off the A2 to canterbury about 5minutes from the dartford tunnel (Kent side). You can stay here for as long as you like as we make you very welcome...giving you everything you need to survive. You can shelter from the rain as it never rains on our planet unlike your Earth...and it never gets too hot thanks to very powerfull airconditioning. There is room for everybody to go about their shopping in peace, and plenty of space to land your ship....or park your car in our massive carparks. You can come by coach or train...we are not fussy! Last word from planet Bluewater....We are much more evolved than our neighbouring planet Lakeside...so come visit us!
This 'reimagining' of the original film 'Planet of the Apes' has been hyped up over the last 6 months so much, that it was little wonder it was such a disappointment...after all, how can you possibly live up to the great Charlton Heston in a loin cloth!? Okay so the make-up was excellent, give the costume and special effects guys an oscar, but whatever you do, don't give one to the cast. Mark Wahlberg (a re-marketed failed rapper and underwear model Marky-mark, thanks to his friendship with George Clooney now assaulting us via the big screen) stars as the pilot who crash lands onto this 'Planet of the Apes' and finds out that roles have been reversed and Humans are now slaves kept in cages and Apes (God forbid you should call them monkeys) rule the land. Unfortunately I quite frankly my dear, did not give a damn whether Mr Wahlberg survived his adventure or not, and judging by his wooden acting, neither did he. Now a Hollywood movie would not be a Hollywood movie without a love interest, and lucky Mark has two. Estelle Warren plays his human love interest, whom he saves from slavery and then saves her brother from death. Being a swimmer by trade, rather than an actress, I can forgive her, also wooden acting...although why the casting directors cannot pick one of the more worthy 90% resting actors rather than a leggy blonde amazon I don't know. Love interest numbero two, intent on exploring the bestiality theme, is ape princess Helena Bonham-Carter. Or should I say, Helena's eyes...as the rest of her is hidden under a hulking great ape costume. I have to say, she was fairly good....very expressive eyes..given what she had to work with - ie very little.....it was a sterling effort. Another actorworth a mention was Tim Roth, who played the baddie Ape.......Best actor by far and in my opinion, underestimated in his industry. Also nice to see a young boy played by someone other than the brattis h Haley Joel Osment. I had not seen the original, but read the plot in another op before I went to see it and knowing what was happening did spoil it a bit for me so I won't give too much away plotwise except to say the planet is not that much different from Earth...in fact........no no I mustn't.... If you have seen the original then, to be honest, I wouldn't bother with this one unless you are particularly interested in the costumes and make-up. If you do go, then look out for spoofs of other films such as American Beauty, Macbeth and Mission Impossible 2......I think I spotted about five in total.
Dooyoo have a special Birthday or Anniversary coming up? If so then I would highly recommend a dinner at London's Ivy restaurant. Situated just minutes from Leicester Square tube station and a favourite haunt of A list celebs, if you are lucky you may find yourself dining next to Madonna or Victoria Beckham. Although the information on the web says the cost is £70 a head without wine and £100 a head with wine, We had a three course meal for two with a £30 bottle of wine and still had change from £130 including a 20% tip. Now, I am obvioulsy not a celeb, but I still got treated with the same impeachable service that the stars get. You do not even need to touch the water or wine bottles for a refill as one of the many attentive waiters will refill your glass before it gets to below half full (yes, the glasses here are definitely half full rather than half empty!) The decor reminded me of a gentlemans club (or what I would imagine one to be like as I have never frequented such a place - being a lady!) The windows are stained glass and the open plan seating (which surprised me) still makes you feel like you are having an intimate dinner. The menu is extremely comprehensive, with at least twenty different starters, entrees and a good mixture of both sweet and savoury desserts. The food is very traditionally English fayre, such as shepherds pie, steak, fish and chips, kedgeree and pigeon (from nearby Trafalgar Square perhaps!!). The kind of food that your granny would have made, if she had of been a classically trained chef conversant with Fois Gras and Beluga caviar - on the menu for £125.00 if you are interested. The starters were superb. My dining companion opted for the fois gras whilst I had a crispy duck salad that was full of flavour and extremely plentiful. For the mains, I had steak, which I ordered medium rare but came more medium than to my liking. My companion ordered the fish and chips whi ch he said were perfect....well the empty plate spoke for itself! For dessert - personally my favourite part of any meal. I had the famous sticky toffee pudding (reportedly Madonna's favourite although I can't imagine that she eats it that often!). It was sublime. Moist and full of flavour without being too sickly...it was just a shame that I hadn't left more room to finish it! My partner went for the Blackberry and apple crumble which he said was just as good as my pudding (having polished off the other half of it!). We spent a good two and a half hours there, and soaked up the atmosphere whilst listening to the rich and slightly famous brag about their holidays in Mustique etc etc which must have been one of the most entertaining nights out i've had for ages. Some facts about the Ivy; Posh and Becks had their engagement party in the private room. A table on saturday night is not free to the general public (read riff raff!) until February of next year. Traces of cocaine were found on the toilet seats after an undercover investigation by the Daily Mail newpaper. Madonna has dined with Victoria Beckham here. The private room can be booked 3 months in advance. I certainly enjoyed feeling like a member of the glitterati for an evening, but was glad when I rolled out of there at half past ten, that the awaiting papparazi photographers didn't want a photo of my extremely full stomach!
If you are going to spend a lot of money on a designer handbag then I suggest hopping on the Eurostar and taking a trip to Louis Vuitton, Paris. The French designer has long been a firm favourite amongst celebrities such as Martine Mccutcheon and Victoria Beckham and style icon and model Kate Moss. Now I know why, not only are the bags made of the highest quality leather and come in a huge range of both high fashion and traditional styles but the shopping experience is not to be missed. Instead of going to the tourist trap on the Champs Elysee (where you will be swamped by Japanese tourists) head to the boutique in the St Germaine de Pres area, where the Parisiennes go. When you enter the shop, you are allocated a personal shopper all to yourself who will go through the book with you ( no rummaging through the rails here as all styles and finishes are pictured in a high class catalogue) Once you have picked out some styles that you would like to view, the assistant will then go to the store room to pick up those styles, and any similar ones that they think you might be interested in. Once you have chosen, they then gift wrap your purchase in a big box and all that you need to do is just pay for it. Now, the reason that I said go to Paris is that you will save a lot more than the price of your Eurostar ticket as the bags are very expensive, typically between £300-500 for a handbag and over £1000 for a suitcase. But if you buy in the London, New Bond Street store you will be looking at paying over £200 more than that. Although that is a lot of money to pay for a handbag, I am expecting mine to last a lifetime.....and the LV symbol is synonymous with good taste and high class which will never go out of fashion. I would advise against buying the luggage because, as posh spice found out, an obviously expensive piece of luggage is an open invitation for airport theives. I would also advise again buying the new 'graffiti' style bags as graffiti is already on it's way out so it would not be a very good investment. (Even style icon and millionaire Victoria Beckham recognised this and bought a fake instead of getting on the waiting list for the real thing and finding it had gone out of fashion). Now Atomic Kitten and Destiny's Child are wearing it, it is just a matter of time before the death knell sounds. So if you have filled you Fendi bagette to bursting and you need a bigger, more practical, but still as fashionable then look no further than Louis Vuitton.Now all I need is to go back and get the matching wallet!
If you like your movies loud and full of action, then you will not be disappointed with Swordfish. The film shows all the characteristics of a true Hollywood Blockbuster, top actors (John Travolta and Halle Berry), explosions a plenty, daredevil stunts, fast cars, beautiful women and men with big......guns. The plot is pretty gripping as well. When the two most expert hackers both come to LA and one is shot dead, the FBI know there is something going on, the only trouble is how to go about proving it without getting their only hope, Stan killed. If Stan even touches a computer he will be thrown back into jail and have no hope of building a relationship with his daughter whilst in the clink. However the lure of ten million dollars and the chance to be a father to his daughter proves too much and he agrees to help a terrorist (Travolta) in hacking into the most impenatrable computer system in the US - World Bank. But nothing is as straight forward as it seems in this movie, Travolta is not your typical terrorist, and Halle Berry is definitely not your typical piece of eye candy. For a film that is classified as a fifteen certificate, either I am getting prudish in my old age or this was a real borderline eighteen - unless you count gruesome burn out dead bodies to be suitable for a fifteen year old, that is. If you liked Mission Impossible 2 and almost anything with Robert de Niro in it.......then I guarantee you will enjoy this film. I typically prefer more 'girly' romantic films, however I do like an intelligent thriller, ideally with some fit male bodies (!) and this definitely didn't disappoint. Go and see it, but look away when they view the dead body if you are squeamish!
If you have a pet then I suggest you go and see this film.......you may never look at it in the same light again. Cats and Dogs is essentially a childrens film, rated PG and with lots of slapstick humour, for example dogs running into windows that they didn't know were there etc.......but any adult who has pets will certainly get something out of the film too. The storyline is fairly basic, a cute beagle puppy is wrongly placed into an American household where the Father is working on a cure for dog allergies. A special 'agent' puppy should have been placed into the family to protect the formula from the cats who want to steal and reverse the formula in order to make all humans allergic to dogs so that cats can once again rule. The main cast of characters are Butch - He is the leader of the agents and hardened against getting too close to the human family that our hero Lou is becoming attached to. He is voiced by Alec Baldwin. Ivy - A world weary stray Saluki who has some sensible advice for Lou - Voiced by Susan Sarandon, who does a great job. Lou - The cute beagle puppy who's dreams of adventure come true when he is mistaken for an agent and then allowed to help with protecting the formula. Voiced by Tobey Maguire. He is likeable but can sometimes be irritating. Mr Tinkles - He is the 'evil' leader of the cats. A white persian not unlike the one in the James Bond films. I'm not sure who voiced this character but he was very funny. Other memorable characters include a bald pekinese computer scientist, a dumb english sheep dog, a russian blue terrorist, and a group of ninja cats. I am sure that you can guess who it is that saves the world from being overrun by cats but the idea is to enjoy the ride rather than anticipate the finish. This is a great family film which has some good computer generated special effects and some real laugh out loud moments . The aaaaah cute factor is very high and even the supposedly 'evil' characters are quite likeable. The humans in the film are quite forgettable and are sometimes painted to be pretty dumb but then they are Americans so what would you expect -ooops did I really say that outloud! My favourite moment in the film was the 'stealthpoo' hidden inside the Russian's hairball......but you have to see the film to find out what that means. The one producer's error that I could see in filming was that the boys dog allergy cleared up without any antidote being given, but then it is fantasy so I suppose anything is possible. You do leave the cinema feeling uplifted as it was truely feelgood family fun. I doubt very much whether it will be a classic, but it certainly passed a saturday afternoon that was, how shall I say this without being corny - raining cats and dogs and is definitely worth seeing, even if you wait for the video
Question - What is big and green and ugly but has a heart of gold? If you have been to see the movie Shrek then you will know that the answer is the lovable, unlikely hero of Dreamworks productions current hit movie. Shreks voiceover is done by comic genius Mike Myers (Wayne's World, Austin Powers) and was originally done in an American accent but Myers thought it would be more funny in a light Scottish accent, which I have to say fitted perfectly with the character. Although Shrek is a grumpy, filthy slob, his peaceful swamp life is disturbed when the Disney characters from all those films you loved as a child set up camp on his land. The only way to get his old life back is to rescue Princess Fiona from the top of a castle guarded by - you guessed it - a fire breathing dragon and deliver her to the horrible Lord Farquad so that he can marry her and become king. Along the way he is befriended by a talking donkey called Duncan who is the funniest thing about the movie. Eddie Murphy is the voice of the donkey, who just will not shut up, but is very loveable and certainly has all the best lines. The Princess Fiona is 'played' by Cameron Diaz, and the animation even looks like her. Like everything in this film, she is not your average Princess and there is one particular 'Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon' fight scene which is particularly funny if you have seen this movie as well. As you may have guessed, Shrek and the Princess fall in love on their journey back to Lord Farquad's kingdom. However as per usual with any love story, there are some misunderstandings before they finally get together and a particularly nice twist at the end for anyone who gets annoyed that it is only the beautiful girls who get their man. I won't say anymore on that, you will just have to watch it yourself. I am not a fan of animated movies and never quite got into the whole Wallace and Gromit and Chicken R un craze, but Shrek is certainly not just for children, adults will get a lot out of it too. One of the most amazing things about the movie is that none of the three leads actually met up in the studio when recording their parts, and they all fit together so well in the actual movie. I have a great respect for the actors as I think that it is harder to do this kind of acting work than the in front of the camera stuff that they are used to. The production company Dreamworks certainly manages to put in a few digs about their arch rival Disney (apparently the obsequious Farquad bears a certain resemblance to Disney's boss!) Lastly, if you enjoyed watching Duncan the Donkey, spare a thought for the poor researchers who spent months studying the movements of the animal!
As most of you that read my opinions should know, any site which allows me to spend money is a good thing, but I cannot tell you enough times, how good my experience with lastminute.com was. For quite a while myself and my partner had been planning to go away together for a weekend, and after hearing a lot of good things about lastminute.com we decided to have a look. Well, we were glad that we did, as on Wednesday we came across a weekend trip to Paris leaving on Friday afternoon and getting back on Sunday night, perfect. We would be travelling first class on the Eurostar from Waterloo to Gare Du Nord and staying bed and breakfast in a three star hotel on the outskirts of central Paris. All this for under £170 each, and considering that my partner paid over £60 just to travel on the Eurostar economy class THREE years ago, you can see what a good bargain this was. Okay, so they are cheap, but are they any good? We booked the tickets on Wednesday night at about nine pm. The next morning I received a call at work from Short Breaks (the people that lastminute.com got the deal from) explaining what we had to do and where we had to go on the Friday. They then faxed across the hotel and train ticket purchase confirmation and I was told that the fax would suffice at both the hotel and the Eurostar but that they would send the hard copy, first class post this afternoon. Well, so far we were very impressed, but were even more impressed on Friday morning when, true to their word, the confirmation was in my letter box. I had packed the suitcase and everything went without a hitch. Now all that we needed to worry about was brushing up on our French! (If you want to find out how Paris was, you can read my op entitled A love affair to remember) Lastminute.com obviously deal with extremely reputable and efficient companies because the whole process was completely stress free and everything that was promised was delivered. The site is 100% secure and you can book not only short breaks but long haul holidays, restaurants, theatre tickets, CDs and much much more. It is marketed mainly to men who are hopeless at remembering birthdays and anniversaries, but I will probably book my summer holiday up on this site too, I was that impressed. I don't usually advocate leaving things to the last minute, my family motto, like the cub scouts, being, 'Be prepared' but this website could certainly make me change my mind.
I was lucky enough to be whisked off to Paris for the weekend and highly recommend it. Paris is the city for lovers (they even have a lovers walk) so whether you have a recently aquired partner or a long term love, Paris will inspire the forgotton romantic in us all. My boyfriend booked the tickets on wwwlastminute.com on Wednesday and on Friday evening we were at Waterloo, ready to travel first class on the Eurostar to 'gay' Paris. The deal involved the Eurostar trip, two nights stay in a three star hotel, bed and breakfast. The first morning we got up, excited to make the most of our time and went down to breakfast for seven. I tend to find croissants in this country either too buttery or too dry, but in France, although it is a cliche, they were perfect, crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside, they just melted in your mouth. The French bread was of course delicious. We decided to do all the normal touristy things as I hadn't been to Paris before, and the first stop was the Notre Dame. Having read and enjoyed Victor Hugo's novel, The Hunchback of.... This was a particular highlight (one of many) and the architechture and intricate stained glass windows were awe inspiring. Not a place to take young children due to the fact that you have to remain silent (or at least whisper-quiet) while people are praying. I am not religious, but found the place very peaceful and not at all pompous. Next stop was the Ile de St Louis, which is a picturesque Island in the middle of the Seine that has quaint cafes and boutiques, and the most delicious icecreams imaginable. There is even a L'occitane boutique where you can stock up on their wonderful candles and perfumes and soaps, a lot cheaper than you would find them over here. After a few refreshments we decided to tackle the Champs-Elysee (not one of my boyfriends favourite places!) and what better way to get there than a trip down the river Seine in a rive r boat. The river boat trip was lovelly as the sun was shining and you could see the wonderful buildings of Paris from a different perspective. The only problem is that although the boat acts like a bus and stops at all the tourist spots such as the Eiffel Tower and Champs-Elysee, there is only a boat every twenty five minutes so if you just miss one (which we did a few times!) you can be hanging around for a long time so if you have a lot packed into the day it is much quicker to use the Metro. It is however, the most pleasant way to travel if you can spare the time. The Champs-Elysee is the equivalent of our London's Oxford Street. Full of Japanese tourists, over expensive (for what you get) restaurants and of course, the multi-national Mcdonalds (you can't escape it even in Paris!). There are mainly big stores such as Sephora (the make-up emporium) designer stores such as Louis Vuitton, D + G etc and right at the end is the Arc de Triomphe. After seeing all this once, if I went again I wouldn't come back as the stores were two crowded (there was a two hour queue - mostly Japanese, just to get into Louis Vuitton - we managed to sneak in straight away as some people were leaving, but then there was at least an hour queue if you wanted to buy something, which was a bit ridiculous). The Arc de Triomphe didn't particularly interest me as I am not a fan of things to do with war, but I am sure that it is okay for the men who don't like shopping to have a look around, whilst their ladies spend their Francs. Well, shopping is thirsty and hungry work, so it was time to refuel. After Crepes and milkshakes and a spot of shopping in the St Germaine de Pres area (where I got served in Louis Vuitton straight away - if the Champs Elysee was Oxford street, the St Germaine de Pres was definitely Bond Street - we headed back to the hotel to 'freshen up' in time for dinner, but there were so many good restuarants, where t o choose? We consulted the timeout guide and as it seemed to be that the nicest places for dinner were in the Monmartre we decided to head for the Sacre Coure. This was a good choice as not only does the Sacre Cour lie on a hill overlooking the whole of Paris (the Eiffel Tower lit up at night is a beautiful sight), but there was also a huge amount of steps to climb up to it (if you didn't want to take the lift)which would help to burn off the meal that was to follow. Unfortunately, we got to the Sacre Coure too late to go inside (took too long 'freshening up!) but from the outside the white, domed building was absolutely stunning and well deserved of it's reputation as the most beautiful building in Paris. Next time I would like to see it in the daytime. After possibly the best meal I have ever eaten, in a French restuarant in the Monmatre we headed off back to the Hotel after an exausting day. The French eat incredible slowly and take such a long time over their food that I think we spent about three hours in the restuarant. There was live music and singing and all in all it had been a great day. Although Sunday is supposed to be the day of rest, there was no rest for us as we headed off bright and early after breakfast at 9am. We took the Metro to the Eiffel Tower and were riding the lifts up to the top in no time. Those scared of heights should maybe avoid this as there is literally just a glass door that you are pressed up against between you and a long drop down. However when you get to the top, the view over Paris is amazing, it helped that it was another clear day. We then walked the lovers walk to the Place de Concorde and took the metro to the Louvre. The Louve was probably my favourite part of the trip, whatever art you are into there is something for everyone. Most famously the Mona Lisa which until you have seen in the flesh, you will have no idea of it's beauty. Even the building itse lf is a stunning combination of the modern and the historic. I could go on forever (Oh I already have) so I won't mention much more than to say this is a must visit. A spot of dinner later and a short walk and it was time to head back to the Eurostar for our journey back to London. Midnight at Waterloo and the grim realisation of work on monday hit us. All good things have to come to an end and I now have a list of things that we didn't have time to do and am already planning the next trip.....Paris was a whirlwind romance, but the fantastic memories will last a lifetime
First of all, the good points, George Clooney and er...George Clooney. I would never have watched this film if it hadn't been for the cast, as two hours watching a boat being tossed about on the sea did not really appeal to me. How right I was. What makes this film watchable is the fact that this is a true story. Three storms really did collide to create a monstrous hurricane, killing the crew of a swordfishing ship that was sailing back from a long distance fishing trip. The first part of the film was on land, getting to know a bit about the crew. One man had a young son and an estranged wife. One man was trying with his girlfriend for a baby, another had just met a woman and was looking forward to seeing her again, and then there was the captain, played by good old George, who loves being on the ocean more than anything. You see him flirting with a lady captain and see a picture of his two children, but never get to find out why he doesn't see them and what happened between him and his wife etc. but you can bet that it was probably because he spent so much time on his boat (boys will be boys). Now this part of the film would have been useful if the director had of used it to make the audience feel pity/sorrow for the plight of the crew, but they just come across as boorish, drunken oafs and quite frankly, horrible though it sounds I couldn't feel anything for this bunch of men (apart from George because he is just soooo pretty)! The main part of the film is of course filmed on the ocean. There is a bit of action to break up the long expanses of blue, a shark, a fight, a few big fish, a man overboard (well quite a few of them towards the end!). Yes, the special effects were very good, big waves etc. But while I was watching it I couldn't help imagining someone out of camera shot, throwing buckets of water over the crew. Sorry, maybe I just wasn't 'suspending disbelief' enough, but usually I have no problem doing this. Then there is the obligatory plugging of the great American hero's. Look how great and brave and strong the American coastguards are!! Aren't we great!! Sorry, now I'm just being churlish. Apparently, the families of the people who died in this disaster were happy with the film, even though the cast did portray the victims as stubborn buffoons. I would have given this one star, but George is worth a * all to himself. Watch it if you have to, but a day out fishing with your Dad might be more interesting.
Maybelline may be best known for it's mascara, but it is also pretty innovative in discovering new ways of developing lip and eye colour. It most recent coveted item being the Watershine Lip Colour. This is being marketed as a lipstick with the shine of a gloss but without the stickiness and it is certainly flying of the shelves, but does it actually deliver? First, the style test. Although the iridescent pink tubes are not as glamorous as the designer brands such as Chanel, for a cheaper range of makeup, the packaging is pretty cute, and in the Stila/Ruby and Millie bracket of kitsch. I'll give this a seven out of ten. Next up, looks. I chose the 'Toffee' shade which was a brown-gold colour with a slight hint of red. The actual shine was good - a lot better than a normal 'glossy' lipstick, but it didn't have the reflective quality of a high shine proper lip gloss. Also I felt a bit cheated as in the television advert the look was completely different to the actual real life look (and no, this wasn't because I am not a model!). However on the plus side, this is a good alternative for someone who doesn't like the sticky feel of lip gloss on their lips (or finds their hair gets stuck to their lips - not a good look!) So I will give this section six out of ten. Next up, staying power. Is this lipstick more of a one night stand or a long term relationship? Well, my experience with lip glosses have always been pretty short-lived. One cup of coffee and they are gone, and I have yet to even find a lipstick with really good staying power, but considering that this was supposed to work in the same way as a gloss I was pleasantly surprised. My lips still had some colour on them after an evening in the pub, drinking, talking and kissing (it also passed the BF test, no lipstick on his collar!) For this section an impressive nine out of ten. Lastly, condition. This didn't dry my lips out at all, in fact they actually felt quite moisturised, ten out of ten for this. So all in all a very reasonable thirty two out of forty. Although I probably wouldn't buy this lipstick again because on the most important category i.e. did it actually look like a gloss, I felt only half satisfied. However, very good value for money and Maybelline is certainly a market leader in the cheap-medium price range when it comes to new products.