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I decided to read The Boleyn Inheritance after really enjoying reading another Philippa Gregory novel, The Other Boleyn Girl.
The Boleyn Inheritance picks up the story of Henry VIII and his wives after the death of Jane Seymour, and he has decided to find himself a new wife.
The story is told in first person from 3 different points of view. The chapters alternate between whether they are narrated by Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard or Jane Boleyn. At first I wasn't sure if I would enjoy this as it switches quite a lot during the book, but it was actually a very interesting way to tell the story. Sometimes two characters recounting the same events would see them in very different lights, so the reader can see more than one side of the story. However, the retelling of events does not happen too often, so the book can move quite quickly.
I found the book to be very hard to put down, and wanted to keep reading to find out what happens next. Although most people will know the key historical facts about Henry and his wives, and ultimately know how the story ends, the book is none the less very engaging, and Philippa Gregory writes in a way that makes you keep wanting to find out more.
I'm not sure whether it is the case is all editions of this book, but in the edition I read there is an authors note at the end, which is a couple of pages detailing the historical facts of the novel. Whenever I read a book such as this which is based on people or situations that were real, I'm always keen to know how much is true. It seems a lot of the facts about people, events, times and places are true, the only parts the author admits are her imagination are the thoughts, feelings and motivations of the characters.
Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard are wives of Henry that I don't know very much about, as neither were married to him for very long, and school history lessons just gave a brief overview of the facts. This book really brought these women to life, and brought home the horror and fear that would have been present in Henry's court. It was interesting to think about these people not just as names learnt in a history class, but as real people who certainly suffered at the hands of Henry VIII.
This was a very interesting novel, and I think anyone who has even a slight interest in Tudor history would enjoy it.
I've had this video player for quite a few years now and bought it to go with the TV in my bedroom.
It was easy to connect to the TV via a scart cable and only took a few minutes to set up.
The video player also comes with a remote control, so this is handy as you don't have to keep getting up.
The video player can record videos as well as playing them, and you can also set a timer so that you can record something even when your not there to press record when the programme starts.
The recording function works very well, and I have had no trouble when I have wanted to record something off the TV. Unfortunately the timer does not work quite so well. I used this once to record something that was going to be on during the night when I would be asleep, so I set it all up and went to bed. As I said the TV and video player was in my bedroom, so during the night I was suddenly woken by the video player whirring and making a lot of noise while it was setting up and getting ready to record. It did record ok, so this video player would be great in any other room of the house, just don't set it to record during the night while it is in your room and you are sleeping.
Aside from this slight flaw, the video player has always worked very well for me, and despite having owned it for a few years, it works just as well as when I bought it, and I have had no other problems with its functionality.
If you're looking for a video player, I would recommend this one.
I bought this hi-fi system a few years ago as I needed a replacement for my old one. I wanted something that looked nice, was quite compact and not too expensive, so at around £60 I seem to recall, this fitted the bill nicely.
The hi-fi features a CD player, tape deck, and fm/am radio.
I found it very easy to set up and attach the speakers to the main system, and had it working very quickly.
I was impressed with the sound quality, although I have never had it excessively loud, so couldn't really comment on how good the quality of the sound is when you really turn the volume up.
The CD player works well and even plays CD re-writes burnt on the computer, which sometimes I have found to be incompatible with other CD players I have owned.
The radio picks up very good reception, and I have had no need for a separate ariel in order to pick up good radio signal on most stations.
I haven't used the tape deck much, but it seems to work well, and it is useful to have one, as not all hi fi systems include one, and you never know when you might need it.
The hi fi comes with a remote control which has always worked well and is easy to use. You don't even have to point it directly at the hi-fi and it still works.
If you need a simple hi fi and want to listen to CDs and the radio, then this is great, and a good price. I would highly recommend it.
I bought my HP psc 1510 printer when I went to university, as it seemed like a good all around product that I would get a lot of use out of. I knew I would get a lot of use out of a printer, but the scanner and copier functions have always proved very useful.
My main requirement of any item of technology is that it must be easy to set up and use. This printer certainly fulfills that criteria. It needs to be plugged in to the mains, then connected to the computer via the USB cable. All these cables come included with the printer.
Setting it up involves inserting the accompanying CD into the computer, and following the simple on screen instructions to connect the printer. Then you're ready to go!
Using the scanning and copying functions is just as simple, and if you are copying something, the printer does not even need to be connected to the computer.
I think you can also connect a camera straight to the printer and print from it, but I have not investigated this, so can't comment on the ease of use of quality of this feature.
I find the quality of the printing to be of a very high standard, and with photo paper, I can even print photo quality pictures.
Changing the cartridges is very straightforward, and you can do it quickly with no ink getting on your hands.
I've had this printer for around about 4 years now, and it still works just as well as it did when I got it. If you want simplicity, and god quality print outs, then this is the ideal printer to get.
The Other Boleyn Girl is a novel by Philippa Gregory, who is known for her historical novels. Historical novels are not a catergory of books that I know much about and not usually something I would choose, but I actually won this book, so thought I would give it a read.
Everyone has heard of Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII, but not as much is known about her sister Mary Boleyn, who is the narrator of this novel.
The book begins when the girls are in their mid teens, and in the court of Henry VIII and his wife Katherine of Aragon. Their life as courtiers revolves around entertaining the King, and their own personal battles for power and gain.
When King Henry takes a particular interest in Mary, it is decided by her parents that she must aim to become his mistress, as this would bring a huge amount of power and kudos to the family, especially if she can bear him a child.
As Mary loses all control of her life and its direction, her sister Anne becomes incredibly jealous of her relationship with the King, not wanting to be seen as the second best sister. And so Anne's quest for the affection of the king begins.
I found this a fascinating book, and although it is perhaps not 100% historically accurate, it certainly makes for a good read. Some of the basic facts in the story have historical grounding, for example the families mentioned in the book, and the very likely possibility that Mary Boleyn had a relationship with King Henry before her sister was married to him.
Even though most people will know how the story ends, we all know from history lessons that Anne Boleyn was beheaded, the book is still really interesting and enjoyable to read. You can't imagine while you are reading the book how things go so wrong for Anne, so that makes you want to keep reading to find out how she met her sorry end.
I found this book very hard to put down, and really enjoyed reading about the Tudor court, and the scandals and dramas that happened there. It was also really interesting to learn something of the back story behind these famous, and not so famous historical figures.
I thought this was a great book, and as soon as I finished reading it, I was keen to get another Philippa Gregory book, and read more of the historical novels she has written. I would definitely recommend this book.
Whilst I was staying in Tokyo, we decided to take a trip to the observation deck of the Tokyo Tower. The tower is located in central Tokyo, and at over 300m tall, it is visible for miles around.
At the base of the tower there is a complex of shops and restaurants, selling all sorts of souvenirs and different types of cuisine. We stopped here for lunch when we were pleasantly surprised by the prices of the restaurants, as they were not too expensive considering we were at one of the main tourist attractions in the city.
When you are at the base of the tower you can buy a ticket to go to the main observatory, which is 150m high, about half way up the tower. This costs 820yen, which I think was around £6 at the time. Once you are in the main observatory, you have the option of paying I think around 700yen more to go up to the special observatory, which is 250m high.
When we arrived at the main observatory, we were greeted with amazing views over the city in all directions. The views were so good that we decided not to pay the extra to go up another 100m, we couldn't think what we might be able to see up there that we couldn't see from the main observatory.
We enjoyed strolling around and taking lots of photos, although even in the middle of a week day it was still very busy at the observatory. Surprisingly, most of the people there were Japanese, not tourists.
There are plenty of staff at the Tokyo Tower, manning the lifts and making sure that everything is running smoothly. They were very helpful and polite, and all dressed immaculately in matching uniforms - something you see quite a lot in Tokyo, but not so much anywhere else I've been in the world.
Overall I would say that the Tokyo Tower provides an interesting hour or so in Tokyo, and if you were there I think it is well worth a visit.
Having been a Neighbours fan for years, one thing I was determined to do whilst visiting Melbourne was take the Neighbours tour to Ramsay Street.
The tour was easy to book online, or could be done in person at the Neighbours Tour office in the centre of Melbourne, and cost $50, which is approximately £30 at the moment.
The tour picks you up from central Melbourne, and drives you out to the suburbs, which is where Neighbours is filmed. We were picked up in the Neighbours bus, which is brightly decorated with Ramsay Street signs and a picture of Dr Karl! Whilst on the bus, our guide told us lots of Neighbours trivia and gossip, which was all very interesting, and there is a video player on the bus for watching classic episodes.
Depending on where the cast are currently filming you are sometimes able to see some of the sets, and we were able to go to Carpenters Mechanics, and Grease Monkeys.
From there, we drove on to the main event, Ramsay Street itself! We spent some time in the street (which is very small in real life) and were able to take pictures of the houses and pose with a Ramsay Street street sign! It was quite surreal seeing the street in reality and imagining the characters there!
The tour takes just over 3 hours in total, and the time goes very quickly as our guide was constantly pointing our places that have been used in filming, or telling us interesting facts about the show and gossip about the actors.
I felt the trip was a little expensive for what it was, however they run two full trips a day to the street, so people are clearly happy to pay $50, so thats why they charge that much. Whilst I thought it was a bit overpriced, I enjoyed the trip very much, and if you're a Neighbours fan and interested in seeing the familiar settings in person, then I would definitely recommend the trip.
When starting to do some research online and read through our guidebooks before visiting Sydney, everywhere recommended a visit to Taronga Zoo. The zoo is located on the opposite side of the harbour from the Sydney Opera House, so we took a ferry across to the zoo. You can save a few dollars by purchasing a combined zoo and ferry ticket at the ferry ticket office, I think this was a little over $40.
When you arrive at the ferry stop for the zoo, you can take a cable car or a bus up to the entrance, and we opted for the cable car. It takes you right over the top of the zoo, giving wonderful views of some of the animal enclosures.
The first thing we did when we arrived at the zoo was book the Koala Encounter. This allows you to go into the koala enclosure and have photos taken up close to the animals. This costs $20 extra, which may seem a little expensive, but it was a fantastic experience, and includes a souvenir photo.
The zoo features all sorts of amazing animals including elephants, tigers, giraffes, chimps, kangeroos, komodo dragons, sealions and plenty more. There are various shows during the day where the keepers explain more about various animals, which were really interesting and enjoyable.
The zoo also has the most fantastic views back across the harbour to the opera house and the bridge, so you can get some great pictures here!
All the animals in the zoo appear to be happy and well taken care of. The enclosures seem to be spacious and imitate the natural habitat of the animals, which is always good to see. The zoo has a very strong focus on conservation and protecting the animals, rather than showing them off.
Taronga Zoo proved to be a fantastic day out, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone visiting Sydney.
I stayed at the Travelodge in Sydney on a recent trip there for 10 nights. I'm not sure what the usual rates are for the Travelodge, but we managed to bag an amazing bargain, paying just over £30 per night for the room.
The hotel is centrally located in Sydney, between Kings Cross and Darlinghurst, very close to Hyde Park. It takes around 20 minutes to walk from the Travelodge to the harbour and the Sydney Opera House.
When we checked in, the staff were friendly and helpful, and were very knowledgable when we came to them during the course of our stay with various questions.
I was very impressed with our room when we arrived, it was spacious, clean and comfortable, and also came with a small kitchenette where we had a fridge, sink, kettle and microwave.
The hotel has a breakfast restaurant, however as we were room only, I am unable to comment on the breakfasts provided. There isn't any further food provision at the hotel, however in the rooms there are leaflets with a collection of menus from local restaurants from which you can order and have it delivered to your room. It did incur a delivery charge of I think $7, so we tended to go out for food instead, but it was a nice idea if you fancy an evening in.
There is internet provision at the hotel, which was a little expensive, and the wi-fi was very overpriced, I think around $20 for 24 hours access.
Overall I would highly recommend this hotel as being a great base for exploring Sydney. In such an exciting city, you won't be spending much time in your hotel, but it's good to know that you have somewhere comfortable and relaxing to come back to at the end of a busy day of sightseeing.
I flew with Virgin Atlantic in early December on a trip to New York. This was my first experience with the airline, although I had heard good things about it from friends and family.
The first thing to say is that my flight was very competitively priced. Most return flights to New York cost start at a minimum of £300, and can go up to around £500. My flight with Virgin was priced at just £286.
When I arrived at Heathrow to check in, the Virgin check in desks couldn't have been easier to find. There were lots of desks, and the check-in staff were very helpful and efficient, we only had to wait a couple of minutes in line.
When we were able to go to the gate ready to board our flight, Virgin had put out a selection of complimentary magazines and newspapers to take on board with us, things like Tatler, Hello and Evening Standard. I thought this was a really nice touch, and I hadn't seen other airlines offering this before to normal economy passengers.
When we got on board, I was pleased to see on my seat a pillow and blanket ready, headphones, and a pack containing a toothbrush, toothpaste and an eye mask. These were all nice touches where Virgin seemed to have put som consideration into what passengers might actually find useful on a long haul flight.
There wasn't a huge amount of leg room, but neither was it ridiculously cramped either.
The seats all had screens in the back of the seat in front, so you could choose what you wanted to watch. There was a huge range of recently released films to watch, as well as lots of TV programmes, radio stations and a kids channel.
Whilst on board, we were served a meal and two snacks, which seemed adequate for the 7 hours we were flying. The main meal was average - the usual microwaved meat and gravy type thing. I can't remember what exactly it was now, very unremarkable anyway. This was served with a bread roll and some salad. The dessert was a pleasant surprise however, a Gu chocolate and raspberry pudding! Very nice!
The snacks we had were a Gu brownie, and a choc ice - all very pleasant. Drinks were also served throughout the flight, all free of charge including beer and wine.
The attendants on the flights both to New York and back again were friendly and attentive and were always in sight if you needed one for any reason.
Our return flight was fairly similar in standard, although there were no free magazines and no Gu puddings which was a little disappointing! However the main plus point on the flight home was that it only took 6 and a half hours instead of 7 and a half, so I'll forgive the lack of Gu puddings as they got me home quickly!
I'm not the biggest fan of flying, I love being abroad and seeing new places, but I just hate being bored and uncomfortable on planes trying to get around. Despite this, I think the Virgin flights that I travelled on were some of my better flying experiences. If only more airlines realised that a copy of Hello magazine, a good choice of films, some free wine and a Gu pudding could make things so much more enjoyable!
In addition to a very pleasant flight, Virgin Atlantic also run a very good loyalty scheme - Virgin Flying Club. You can earn miles for flying with Virgin as well as using their credit card, or shopping at online stores through their website. Miles can be exchanged for free flights and upgrades, and they seem to add up to more rewards than a lot of other airlines loyalty schemes. As a side note, if you're flying with Virgin and want to join the Flying Club, send me a private message with you email so I can recommend you, and we both get bonus miles for it!
I visited the Ace Hotel in New York on a recent trip there, and stayed for 3 nights. In New York, location is very important, as you want to be able to easily get around the city to see as much as possible. The hotel is located on West 29th and Broadway, which is just south of the Theatre District. This is a nice central location - it took about 5 minutes to walk up to Macys, and around 15 minutes to walk up to Times Square.
When we first arrived at the hotel, we noticed the huge lobby bar, full of people. We arrived on a Thursday night at around 9pm, and the bar was full to bursting! More on this area of the hotel later!
We checked in quickly - there was no wait, and the member of staff helping us was very friendly and efficient.
We then went up to check out our room. The rooms are all decorated with a "Brooklyn loft apartment" sort of feel to them. Our room came with a full sized black Smeg fridge in it, a radio/ipod dock and an lcd tv.
I had mixed feelings about the room as there were some good points and some not so good. One thing I was not so keen on was the fact that the beds were bunk beds. We were aware of this before we went, so I can't complain too much, but this was the only alternative to a double bed. Despite this, the beds were very comfortable, and had very comfy pillows, and proper duvets, instead of the sheets and blankets found in some hotels.
The room had an ensuite bathroom which was very nice. The shower was amazing - the shower head was at least 6 inches wide, and provided lovely hot powerful showers. The one thing I did think was a bit strange was that the baisin was in the room, not in the bathroom. It felt a bit like being back in University halls again!
On the first evening, we decided to head downstairs to the crowded lobby bar. To my surprise, when we started to talk to a few people, they were all New Yorkers, and this was their venue of choice for an after work drink! Normally I associate hotel bars with being over priced and just for desparate tourists, but local people actually chose to come here! This gave the place a really good atmosphere, and drinks were reasonably priced - about $10 for a glass of wine, which seemed average for the area.
There is no restaurant in the hotel, only the bar serving drinks. They do offer room service, but we never used this facility so I can't comment on it.
At present they don't have any leisure facilities, however they are opening a gym in the near future. If you do wish to use a gym during your stay, they offer gym passes to a local gym for $10 a day.
Our stay at the Ace Hotel cost just over $200 per night, which is pretty good for central Manhattan. Although we were out a lot of the time and so didn't spend much time in the hotel, it was always nice to come back to at the end of a busy day and was clean and comfortable.
Although there were a few things I would change about the room ( the bunk beds and the sink) I still had a very enjoyable stay at the Ace Hotel and would recommend it to those wanting a central place to stay in New York, and anyone who maybe doesn't have the biggest budget in the world, but still wants a comfortable and stylish place to stay.
Twenties Girl is the latest book from Sophie Kinsella, who is probably best known as the author of the Shopaholic series.
The book centres around the life of Lara Lington, who at the start of the book is having a bit of a hard time of it all. She has recently started a headhunting business with her best friend, however her friend has run off to Goa with no plans to return and left Lara to run the floundering business. To make matters worse, the love of Lara's life, Josh, has just broken up with her.
At the start of the book, Lara is annoyed to be forced to attend the funeral of her Great Aunt Sadie, who she has never met, and who passed away at the age of 105. However, when at the funeral, someone starts talking to Lara - the ghost of her Great Aunt Sadie. However, the ghost is not 105, she's a young woman, straight from the 1920s, and she has some unfinished business!
Sadie sets Lara on a quest to find a necklace that she loved, which is now missing. At first, Lara is reluctant to help, being more concerned with her own problems, but Sadie refuses to give up.
The book sees Lara's life completely turned upside down by the presence of Sadie, and her outlook on a lot of things changes. The reader can see the development of the relationship between the two women, and I think it is, in a way, a lovely concept to meet an elderly relative, but in the way they were as a young person.
The story is full of twists and turns, and what seems like a simple treasure hunt ends up uncovering all sorts of family secrets.
I found the book very easy to read, and very hard to put down! It has both very funny laugh out loud moments, and also some very sad points. Both the main characters, Lara and Sadie, are very different but very likeable, and I warmed to both of them as the book went on.
It's a very girly read I think, and I imagine most fans of chick lit would enjoy it. If you have enjoyed any of Sophie Kinsella's other books, I'm sure you will enjoy this one. I would definitely recommend it.
I started reading Elle last year, when they had an offer of a 12 month subscription for £12. At £1 an issue, this is great value compared with the usual £3.60 price tag.
For your money, you get a monthly fashion magazine, which is usually around 300pages.
The cover will usually feature a celebrity, rather than a model, which seems to be a trend of fashion magazines in the last few years. The cover will usually have some headlines and information about what is in the magazine, although when you subscribe, the covers don't have the additional writing.
The magazie itself usually features one main celebrity interview, some lifestyle articles, some guest writers, regular columnists, arts reviews, and of course, lots and lots of pictures and articles of all things fashion. There will be photoshoots, pictures from catwalk shows, and photos of different clothes and accessories and where to buy them.
I really enjoy reading Elle every month, I'm interested in fashion and shopping, and I much prefer reading about this to reading other magazines filled with celebrities falling out of night clubs. Elle does feature some celebrities, but it will usually be an interview with them and some really good pictures, as opposed to the papparazzi shots that the likes of heat magazine etc buy. They also usually feature people who I find far more interesting, such a Hollywood stars, rather than Kerry Katona and the like.
I am quite a shopaholic, so I like seeing their pick of what's in the shops each month. Unfortunately, quite a few things in there will be way out of my price range, but they always include a good selection of things from the high street. Every few months, they also include a devoted "high street shopping guide" as an additional magazine, which always has lots of nice pieces at good prices.
The only negative thing I would have to comment about Elle is the pages and pages of advertising. I know magazines can command a lot for advertising space, but to be paying £3.60 for the magazine, which is quite a lot, and then have to look at all the advertising, is a bit of a shame. If a magazine wants to make a lot from advertising, I think they should lower their price to the consumer. However, for me, paying just £1 per issue, I'm not too bothered.
Overall, I would say that Elle is an enjoyable fashion magazine, and I think anyne who enjoys fashion and shopping would find it interesting. I think it is a little expensive, considering the amount of advertising in it, but if you can find a good subscription deal I would recommend it. When my subscription ends, I would still buy Elle for the regular price, although I probably wouldn't buy it every month.
I recently purchased E45 cream for the first time, having being told by my doctor that I had developed eczema on my legs. I had been suffering with really dry and itchy skin, and my usual Clarins moisturiser didn't seem to be mking much difference. The doctor prescribed me a medicated cream to use for two weeks, and after this, advised E45.
I picked up a 50g tube of E45 to try, for the bargain price of £1.70 in Boots. It it also available in 125g, 350g and 500g.
I have been using the cream every day for a couple of weeks now, and have noticed a considerable improvement in my dry skin. When I first came off the medicated cream, I could see my skin going back to being very dry and itchy, but as soon as I started using the E45, it began to clear up again. Whilst my skin is not is not as smooth and soft as it was before, it is considerably better than it was at its worst, so I'm hoping if I keep using the cream, my legs will eventually return to normal.
The cream is white in colour, fairly thick, and rubs in very easily. It is quickly absorbed by the skin which is good when your getting ready in the morning, and don't have time to wait for moisturiser to dry before putting your clothes on.
There isn't really much of a scent to it, so it shouldn't be offensive to anyone.
The box says that the cream can be used for dry, chapped, rough and even sunburnt skin. It also says that E45 is recommended for skin conditions including eczema, dermatitis, ichthyosis, and some types of psoriasis.
The active ingredients in the cream are White Soft Paraffin, Light Liquid Paraffin and Medilan.
E45 is suitable for all ages including babies.
I have found this to be a really good moisturiser, and has started to do a good job of clearing up the eczema I had developed. Even though I only bought a small tube to try, it seems to be lasting very well, although next time I think I shall be buying one of the bigger pots.
I would highly recommend this cream if you have dry skin that other moisturisers aren't helping, or if you have a dry skin condition such as eczema. It's not expensive and will really make a difference to your skin.
I have previously reviewed my first laptop, a Dell, and if you have read my review you will know that I was fairly unimpressed by it. So when I had finally saved up some pennies, I decided the time had come to buy a brand new laptop, which would hopefully work!
I had decided that I wanted a Sony laptop, as while my old one wasn't working I had often used my boyfriend's Sony Vaio, and had always been very impressed with it, and how fast and easy it was to use.
I chose this particular model, the NR38M, as it was one of the cheapest in the range, costing around £400. Despie this price, it didn't seem to lack any features of some of the other Sony Vaios available.
It has a 250gb hardrive, and 2gb of memory, which is more than ample for my needs. The screen is 15.4", which is adequate or watching films or tv shows on. I won't bore you with any more technical detail than that, and that is about all of the specification that I understood!
It has a very nice design, it comes in silver, and its casing is textured, which makes it look really nice. Overall, it looks very smart and sophisticated.
Set up of the laptop was very straightforward, one you turn it on, it gives step my step instructions as to what to do to get it all going. I'm not a very technical person, and I managed it with no problems or confusion.
Then you're all ready to go! I've been using my laptop for around 9 months now, and it is still as good as when I bought it. I use the computer everyday, so it has had a lot of use, and seems to be holding up just fine. Admittedly, I don't use a lot of features and memory on the computer, I just use the laptop for browsing the internet, watching films and playing music, but it has been perfect for all of these things.
I mostly have the computer plugged in to the mains, but on the occasions I have used the battery, it seems to have lasted quite well. It also gives a countdown from when there is about 20% of the battery remaining, telling you how much is left, and how much time you have left before it runs out.
In my opinion, this is a perfect laptop for day to day internet usage and bits and pieces. If you're looking to run huge programmes and run games etc, you will probably need something with a higher spec than this, but for me it's just right. The computer is fast, opens programmes when you ask it to, and turns on and off very quickly (again, if you have read my Dell review, you will see what a novelty this is for me!).
If you're looking for a not too expensive, but good quality laptop, this is a good one to go for.