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I must confess I have moved around supermarkets a bit over the years. I used to be a loyal Tesco customer until they seemed to be getting more expensive and I didn't like their 'political' presence and morals. I switched to Sainsburys who were much better in value and customer service. I stayed with them up until the opening of a new Aldi store five minutes u the road from me.
I had used Lidl before but was frustrated with the lack of range of products and it wasn't too convenient for me to get to. Also the convenience of home delivery with the likes of Sainsburys saved me petrol money. With the convenience of this new Aldi I had no choice to give it a go and haven't looked back since!
The first thing you need to remember is a trolley token or pound coin. They do have baskets for smaller shops. Also remember to take your own bags. I know most of us do this on auto pilot now! They do have plastic carriers to buy in store and their own re-useable ones to purchase. Their re-useable ones are worth a buy as they are a good size and good quality.
The layout is very basic like many supermarkets but laid out differently to the likes of Sainsburys and Tescos. When you first enter you are in the breakfast, bread and tea and coffee section. There are five aisles in total so there is a lot to take in during a relatively short walks!
The fruit and veg is laid out in the centre of the aisles, almost like a market. I did find it quite hard to find some items as they cram so much in to such a small space so you may find it a bit longer to do your weekly shop in here. The area around the meat section gets quite busy as it's in the corner of the store. Not really the best place as this becomes a bit of a bottle neck.
The aisles are quite narrow and you do often find yourself 'giving way' quite a lot and being patient to allow traffic to pass! I think they should put in mini roundabouts at some of the aisle junctions!
They never seem to have enough people on the checkouts so be prepared to wait for a while! The staff are always friendly although very rushed! There is no packing area at the tills. Once the items are scanned they ask you to loads everything straight back in to your trolley and use the packing shelf at the front of the store. This does enable them to process shops more quickly. I find that if I lay out my bags in the trolley I can load the food straight in to them once passed to me by the checkout assistant.
Range of Goods
I find that I can get most of my weekly shop done here but I do still need to go elsewhere for items they don't stock. This is for things such as fresh ginger, flavoured green tea and a few other items.
They stock a great variety of Euopean hams and cheeses. The fruit and veg section should serve most families and they also have a great chocolate selection!
I find some areas a bit limiting like the range of crisps. They do however have a good wine selection from various countries and a selection of different spirits.
There are a couple of aisle where they sell different goods which seem to rotate on a fortnightly basis. There is usually a theme to these. For example they may do a cycling theme and sell cycling shorts, bike lights etc. I am quite amazed at the variety in these aisle. I have seen everything from nasal hair trimmers and tvs to colouring books and socks!
Quality of Goods
This is where it does become a bit pot luck! It seems there is no middle ground, the quality is either really good or really poor! The continental meats and cheeses are really lovely. You really must try their Bavarian cheese and hams! Their bread is lovely, especially the tiger bread! The vegetable are really good too. They don't seem to stay as fresh for long as others I have used.
The prepared meals such as chicken and their frozen meats I have found quite poor. The chicken seems watery and they seem to use a lot of salt. I must confess I don't but my meat from here now for cooking.
My big downfall is their chocolate! They have a good selection and it is so tasty! I am having to go to the gym more now thanks to Lidl!
The wines are really quite good too. It's worth paying a bit more for their middle range selection as the quality and taste is much better.
Value for Money
This is what keeps me going back for more! I was so amazed at the cost of my first shop there I kept going back! It is easily saving us £40 a week on our shop we used to do at Sainsburys. A lot of their items are blatant 'rip offs' from well known brands. FOr example they do an equivalent of Herbal Essence shampoo and conditioner for £1.29. I have to say it's nearly half the price and just as good!
The average price of wine is £4.99 a bottle although they do much cheaper ones.
I do find myself not believing the prices sometimes but they really are real!
I highly recommend this store for your weekly shop. If you haven't used it before you will really be amazed at how much money you can save even just on the basics. You get a huge variety of people in there from all classes and age ranges.
It can be a nuisance sometimes not being able to get everything in store but if you are willing to shop around a bit for some items and have a bit of patience you will save yourself a fortune!
I started watching this film with a fair amount of trepidation as it looked a bit like a 'teen flick'. Being in my mid 30s I wasn't sure if I would enjoy it but the reviews were great so I decided to give it a go!
The film follows a young teenage student called Charlie who goes through all the emotions of starting a new school and the terror of trying to fit in and make new friends. This is something we can all relate to and I soon found myself absorbed in the leading character and feeling every emotion he was going through.
Charlie is soon taken under the wings of two older students, the three character then form the basis of the film and will take you through every emotion possible. The film covers sex, love, bullying, homophobia, virginity, drugs and parties. It also covers the emotional story of Charlies mental illness. We don't fully understand the reasons for Charlies mental health issues though the film but this is disclosed at the end of the film with something that I wasn't expecting! It really wrenched my heart and I found myself just wanting to give him a big hug!
This is one of those films that you just don't want to end! The three main characters were brilliant, all three completely different personalities just showing that opposites do attract and can be great friends!
I haven't watched a film in a long time that has absorbed me quite like this one! Highly recommended!
I have to confess to being a bit of a 'snob' when it comes to buying electrical goods and tend to go for well know brands I am familiar with. I had an older model DSC which was great so when it was time to upgrade to a newer camera I thought I couldn't go wrong with another Sony....big mistake!
On first inspection it was a great looking compact camera. The menu functions were easy to use and it was very simple to 'point and shoot'. My first few shots were in fairly low light conditions and the pictures weren't great but I thought I would give it a chance in full daylight. The photos were unpredictable to say the least! Some were crystal clear and others blurry, especially when zoomed in.
The main reason for us upgrading was to record our honeymoon trip to Scotland. We took lots of video footage in the car and on our travels. When playing it back there was a lot of distortion in the noise. We thought it was just the rubbish speaker on the camera but when we uploaded the videos on the pc at home it was the same! There was minimal road noise in the car but we thought maybe this was the problem.
Once we returned home we tried it again for a weekend with friends at a concert. Once again a terrible distortion through most, with the occasional clear sound! It appears that any type of background noise ruins the sound quality on the video clips.
Sound quality aside the picture wasn't much better! Most of the clips were out of focus and I had to manually adjust the zoom whilst filming to try and get it in focus. Now I know many of you will say, buy a separate video camera but I thought this would be the best of both worlds! I wouldn't mind so much if the pictures were great but overall the camera is a real disappointment and I will be taking it back for a refund. Many great memories have been lost and I am gutted!
Overall I would not recommend this camera. Very poor picture quality in low light and poor video sound and picture quality. The only real positive thing I can say is that the battery life is brilliant! The panoramic function was good fun to play with but again very unpredictable quality on the shots.
Waterside Pool is a public swimming pool located on the seafront in Ryde on the Isle of Wight. There are three main public swimming pools on the Island but this is my favourite and the one that I visit the most. The main thing that sets this pool aside from many others is the fact that it has a retractable roof! I am pleased to say this is kept firmly shut in the winter months but due to the fact that the building is basically one big green house made almost entirely of glass it does get a bit chilly in the winter! The pool is located right next door the boating lake so you get some great views!
There is a small separate pool outside however this is only used in the summer and at this time of year it looks more like a pond as it is not maintained! At Waterside there is only a swimming pool so for those that like all their sports leisure facilities under one roof this is not the place for you! The only seating area is by the pool side and the only refreshments are by means of two vending machines. There is adequate seating though for parents to sit whilst their children swim, you couldn't ask for a better view being only about six feet from the pool edge!
Once you enter the building you have a few notice boards and the reception counter. Once you have paid or shown your membership card you walk straight into the pool area with the changing rooms to the left and right. I found this a bit strange when I first went here as usually you access the pool via the changing rooms! This causes another problem due to the fact that you get a lot of drafts coming in every time someone opens the door to some in just to add to the chillyness! There is an automatic sliding door to come through first into the reception area but only a push and pull door to access the pool area and the cold air seems to find its way through!
One of the main reasons I prefer this pool is the changing rooms. They are very spacious and there are approximately ten individual changing cubicles. For someone like myself lacking self confidence the thought of having to strip off in front of strangers horrifies me, as if it isn't bad enough having to wear a swimming costume to show off all your lumps and bumps! The individual cubicles all have locks on the doors and offer the privacy that many women want. There are three showers which are in need of a bit of a makeover as they are getting a bit tatty but they work fine and offer a warm blast of relief on a cold winters night! The staff clean the changing rooms quite regularly and the only bad times I have noticed is when it has been raining heavily outside and people don't wipe their feet before they come in as the floor gets a bit muddy.
Once the walk of shame is complete from the changing room to the pool it is time to check the temperature! This pool is quite inconsistent with it's temperature, sometimes it takes your breath away with the cold and other times it is fine! It's a bit of pot luck really! The water is always nice and clean though despite the occasional bit of foam swimming float passing you by! I am glad to say that this is the only kind of 'floater' I have seen in there!
The pool does get quite busy between five and half six due to people like myself enjoying a swim after work. This is not a very big pool and only about six lanes wide but is a good length at 25m. The peak times are not helped by the fact that children's swimming lessons take place during term time between five and seven and two of the lanes are roped off for this. I often find myself swimming longer lengths when it is busy due to the fact that I have to weave in and out of fellow swimmers! The life guards are very good and if they see and kids playing up and disturbing people who just want a quiet swim they soon put them in line!
I am not sure how much an individual swim cost here as I took out the councils 'One Card' which allows me unlimited use of the pool for £165 a year. I usually go swimming twice a week so this works out the cheapest way to pay for it. The card allows me to use any of the Councils pools and access to other facilities including squash and badminton courts and even crazy golf in the summer!
Overall despite its flaws I still love this pool! The fact that it is a small building it feels a lot friendlier and I feel very comfortable swimming here. I am looking forward to the summer again when the roof gets pulled back, it's just as good as swimming in the great outdoors!
Jodi Picoult is one of the best known and best selling authors out there so I am surprised that I have not read one of her novels prior to reading this one. I know a few people that love her books so I decided to give her a go and I was certainly not disappointed! Jodi has one many awards for her writing and has written many books, I just need to find the time to read them all now!
Change of Heart focuses on the story of a death row inmate called Shay Bourne who has been convicted of a double murder of a police officer and the officers step daughter. June Nealon is the mother of the murdered child and widow to the officer. June has another daughter fathered by the dead police officer who has a heart defect and urgently needs a heart transplant to prolong her life. The irony in the story is that Shay wants to donate his heart to the daughter Claire when he is executed.
The first thing that stood out to me in this book was the first person writing. Each chapter of the book is written in the first person by each of the main characters. This really did take a bit of getting used to start of with and I found myself flicking back to each character to try and keep up with what was going on and who was saying what! This did annoy me to start off with but the characters are portrayed so well that you soon immerse yourself in to their lives and enjoy the different perspectives that this writing gives you on the characters. All the characters are very strong in this book and you almost start to think what they are thinking. Although the characters are strong they are also very different. You have the character of Shay, a double murderer who seems to perform miracles and be a very gentle man. You go from this to the gentle Catholic priest Michael who is his spiritual advisor and June the distraught widow who only now has her dying daughter left in the world. Each character is very emotional and the author isn't afraid to express their feelings in a very detailed way.
The only main character that doesn't speak in the first person is Shay himself. Most of his actions are told by his fellow inmate Lucius. Lucius is an Aids sufferer but when Shay moves in to the ward his symptoms seem to miraculously disappear! Along with other so called miracles Shay causes uproar with the press and public believing that he is some kind of messiah! I must admit that one scene in particular was a virtual copy of one in the Green Mile! Not wanting to give too much of the plot away I will just say that it involved a death to life conversion! I was worried at this point in the book that it was going to be too similar to the Green Mile but was pleased that it took on it's own identity although similarities were still there throughout.
The story itself is a very controversial one and doing a bit of research into the author it seems that most of her books are like this! The debate that surrounds the death penalty is paramount in this book. The fact that the state in which Shay is to be executed has to build an execution chamber especially causes uproar among the locals. The other problem is that Shay is to be executed by lethal injection which would mean his heart would be worthless and not suitable for transplant. His lawyer fights his case in court for an alternative method of execution so his heart can be saved and donated to this young girl. The main basis for the argument is religion and many arguments take place as Shay is not religious yet he seems to know some ancient quotes from testaments not well known! Is he really a gift from God or just a plain and simple murderer? Will June accept the heart for her daughter from a man that killed her husband and daughter?!
The research that Jodi Picoult has pit into this book is quite astounding, it must have taken her ages! At the back of the book there are a couple of questions answered by Jodi and one of them is relating to the research. Jodi tells how she visited death row in Arizona to get a greater understanding of how the inmates lived and went about their every day lives. Another huge part of research was to do with religion. In the book Shay has a spiritual advisor and there are many religious debates throughout the book. The dedicated research really pays off in this book and I actually came away from reading it feeling that I had learnt something! I remember watching a show on TV a few days after reading this book about Americas most dangerous prisons. The book must have imprinted a vivid memory in my mind about the prison as I watched the TV show and though it was just like that and could almost se Shay sat in his cell!
In summary I would say this is one of the best books that I have read in a long time! To be fair I would like to have given it four and a half stars rather than five due to the cringe worthy Green Mile moment and the difficulty in getting to grips with all the characters at the start of the book. I do not feel that it deserves four stars though as once I got into the book I really couldn't put it down! There is a good twist at the end of the book which I like and the author keeps you guessing right up until the last minute! I am definitely going to be reading some more of Jodi's books now! Where do I start, the list is so long!
Cut is the third book from best selling author Cathy Glass. Cathy is a foster carer and has been fostering for over twenty years and fostered over fifty children so I am sure she could write dozens of books on her experiences! I have previously read Cathy's previous two novels 'Damaged' and 'Hidden' and found these a compelling read so I knew I wouldn't be disappointed with this book. All Cathy's books are based on real life events and true stories based on children she has fostered.
Cut is based on the story of a thirteen year old girl called Dawn. Dawn appears to be a very polite and helpful girl. Cathy was given no background information on this child by Social Services so she had no idea of the events that would unfold. The first time they realised something was wrong was when Cathy and her husband awoke one night to find Dawn standing over the cot of their new born baby in their bedroom. It soon became apparent that she was sleepwalking and they led her back to her bedroom. The sleepwalking continued nearly every night and Cathy found it very disturbing but had no idea why she was doing this.
Cathy was aware that Dawn had a poor record for her school attendance but she seemed to be attending and going up to her room to do her homework. A week later they had a phone call from her school to say that she hadn't been in all week! The continuing battle began to get Dawn to stay in school. Dawn seemed to be still hanging around with her old friends and often went missing and was brought home drunk by the police. Another more disturbing trait that unfolded was the fact that she self harmed. Cathy was at her wits end on many occasions and had no idea why this child was displaying such disturbing behaviour but the harrowing truth soon unfolds!
The fact that this book is based on true events makes it more compelling. I am aware that these kinds of books are very popular and I am not sure what that really says about the society we live in? Are there so many books due to the high number of children being abused or is it because as a nation we like to read about other peoples misfortunes to make us feel better about our own lives? I don't know the reason but I did find this book very difficult to put down, maybe in the hope that there would be a happy ending.
This book is different from traditional novels as it is portrayed in Cathy's own words and her witnessing and explaining all the events that have happened. This style of writing may not be to everyone's tastes but it certainly makes it seem more real. You cannot help but feel sympathy for Cathy and her family with the lack of support and information from Social Services. This child was fostered many years ago and is now thirty six years old so I do hope that the support for foster carers has changed since then! The way the young girl Dawn is portrayed by Cathy really get you involved with her character and you really feel Cathy's warmth and care towards her.
In summary I would highly recommend this book. It highlights the pitfalls of foster caring but also shows how rewarding it can be, mind you I think I have been put off for life after reading Cathy's books! A very compelling read.
I cannot remember how I found out about this website, it was either another members review on here or from the Money Saving Expert Website. I am a member of a few survey sites and I have to say that this is the worst one! If it wasn't for me being so attached to my grand sum of £2.15 in my account I would close it but I am a stubborn wotsit!
I have been a member of this site for a few months now and I am still confused! There are two main tabs on the site; 'Pureprofile' and 'Nextbutton'. The Pureprofile tab is a bit like a homepage to the site and you can access your account details and profile history from here amongst other relevant sections. The Nextbutton will take you to any surveys that are available to you. If you are shown their 'Stat of the Month' this means and there are no paid surveys to participate in. If you are invited to surveys though they will e-mail you so you do not need to keep visiting the site.
**The Sign Up Process**
The sign up process is one of the longest I have ever had to do and to be honest I nearly lost the will to live whilst nearing the end! You have to answer lots of questions about yourself in no less than twenty categories ranging from work and education to health and well being. In each of these twenty categories there are sub heading with on average five questions to answer. Sometimes when you answer a question another pops up from out of the blue underneath it! You will often think to yourself 'will this ever end'?!! It took me the best part of an hour to complete......that's a whole hour of my life they have sucked away without being paid a penny!
Sign up all completed I gave myself a pat on the back for persevering and reassured myself that I would get loads of surveys flooding in as I had fully completed my profile. Boy was I mistaken!
I have been a member of this website for four months now and have been invited to take part in five surveys. Out of these surveys I was accepted to participate in three of them and was paid £0.50, £0.30 and £1.00. If you do not qualify for a survey you will be paid £0.10 which is better than a poke in the eye! I was also paid a huge sum of 5p for clicking on a Tesco advert appeared under the Nextbutton tab although this is the only paid link I have ever seen, many of them are unpaid but you will be told this so you don't waste your time!
The surveys that I have had have been pretty straight forward and well laid out. On average I would say they take between ten and fifteen minutes to complete however this does vary but I would say they should take you no more than twenty minutes to complete.
You can amend your preferences to set limits for the surveys you receive. You can set minimum limits for reviews, ie not to send you any surveys that are worth less than 50p. I would not recommend setting any limits as the surveys are so few and far between anyway! You can also set which surveys you wish to receive relating to the time they will take for you to complete.
According to the website you will earn $1 for every $5 your friend earns in their account. There is a limit on this of $5 per friend so your earnings will not be indefinite. How they convert this into pounds I do not know as I have not referred anyone yet. Your earnings are shown in pounds though so there is no confusion here.
The minimum payout is £25. You will be paid directly in to your bank account by means of BACS transfer. Unfortunately I cannot comment on the speed of payment as at this rate it will take me another five years to reach this payout! If I do get there I will come back and add it to my review but don't hold your breath!
Overall I would say that this is the worst survey site I have ever used! The surveys are few and far between and the website is overly complicated and quite hard to navigate. The sign up process is enough to drive you to tears with frustration and the rewards form survey invites have certainly not made up for this. Maybe I am just not the kind of person they are looking for to complete their surveys however I get quite a few from other websites so I am not taking offense!
The payout for each survey completed is pretty good so if you do get a few invites I am sure you can reach the £25 payout threshold relatively quickly. If you have the patience of a saint to complete the registration process I would say give it a go as you have nothing to lose! I only wish I hadn't even started with this site now and wasted my time with it! I would be interested to hear if any other members have had any better luck than me with this site.
With a serious case of the munchies I visited my local Co-op and saw these little treats on offer as a buy one get one free, how could I resist?! It has been many years since I have had a Jammy Dodger, I think the last time I had one was when I pinched a mini version off my niece! What a cruel auntie I am! Satisfied with my purchase I headed home looking forward to my treat, what a sad life I lead!!
The biscuits come in a long bright red wrapper and the biscuits are facing upwards in a line of five stacked two high so you get ten biscuits in total. They are circular in shape with a heart shape in the middle which is filled with jam. The biscuits consist of two shortcake biscuits stuck together with raspberry flavoured jam. The biscuits are approximately two inches in diameter for anyone who wants to gauge bite size! I found that a biscuit can be consumed comfortably in three bites. I did try two (for research sake of course!) but this was pushing it a bit and I ended up looking a bit like a hamster!
I must admit that when I took my first bite I was disappointed at how dry they were. I used to eat these all the time when I was a kid and I remember there being plenty of sticky jam but now it seems to have gone. The biscuits are held together with what seems to be the minimum amount of jam and it does not even spread to half the surface of the biscuit. The jam was very scrummy and not too sweet I would just like to have had twice the amount!
Another problem that I had with these biscuits was the crumbs! I know half the fun of eating biccies is making a mess but with these it was a nightmare! Ever bit I took seemed to spray various size crumbs into my lap and onto the floor, even with my hand held under my mouth to catch the debris! Thank goodness for dust busters that is all I can say! I would say that the crumble factor has a lot to do with the lack of jam to hold the shortcake biscuits together.
Overall I would say that I am quite disappointed with these. The taste is nice but they are far too dry for my liking. If they had a bit more jam in them I would have enjoyed them a lot more and not had to have drunk a few mouthfuls of water in between bites to moisten my mouth again! On the plus side they are free from artificial colours, flavours and hydrogenated fats so they are suitable as a treat for children too.
Nutritional Information for those of you that are interested:
Wheat flower, Raspberry flavoured plum jam, Gelling agent (Pectins), Acidity Regulator (Sodium Citrates), Citric Acid, Natural Flavouring, Natural Colour (Anthocyainins), Calcium Chloride, Vegetable Oil, Sugar, Glucose Syrup, Raising Agents (Ammonium Hydrogen Carbonate, Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate(, Whay Powder, Salt.
Nutrition per biscuit
12.6g carbohydrates (5.1g of which sugars)
3.0g fat (1.4g of which saturates)
I was given Bop It as a Christmas present a couple of years ago and to be honest I forgot that I had it! One drunken Saturday night my friend and me were rummaging through my games draw and came across this, a change of batteries later we were away! One annoying thing though is that you do need a screwdriver (Phillips) to remove the battery casing.
Bop It is basically an electronic game and upon first impressions you may well wonder what on earth you are supposed to do with it! It is shaped a bit like a steering wheel and at the four 'corners' are some weird and wonderful shapes with the following writing next to them:
- Flick it
- Spin it
- Twist it
- Pull it
In the centre of the game there is a big button with Bopit Extreme 2 written on it.
The whole game is of quite a sturdy construction and it feels nice and solid in your hands. It has to be of solid construction as it does get a bit of a beating, especially with more than one of you playing with it! There are various game modes you can play so you can play :
- Solo; play on your own
- Pass it; play with as many people as you like and pass the game when your turn is over
- One on one; sit opposite your opponent and you hold one end of the game each to play.
Once you have selected the mode of game play by pulling the 'pull it' end you hit the big centre button to get going. A beat will start and voice commands will be given to you and you must twist, pull etc the corresponding item as quickly as possible. If you make a mistake or don't get the correct one in time it is game over. The aim is to get as many correct answers in a row as possible. I have managed to get around 100 points but after a few alcoholic drinks I struggled to get over ten!
The pass it option is good fun, especially when you have a group of you playing but don't be tempted to throw the game as it is quite weighty! The one on one is quite amusing especially when the 'bop it' command is prompted and you have to hit the big centre button as you end up slapping each other on the back of the hand!
Reaction and concentration are the main things that this game focuses on. You really have to react quickly to the voice prompts and concentrate to make sure you carry out the corresponding action. I sometimes find that I end up concentrating too hard and making mistakes! I do find the voice a bit irritating after I have been playing for a while, especially when he lets out a 'waaaaaaaaaaah' when you make a mistake and proceeds to tell you that the game is over! You can adjust the volume though and this is a real must if there are other people in the house not playing as the noise would drive them insane!
You can currently buy this game on Amazon for £32.99 which I feel is a little bit steep. The game is a bit of a novelty really and the initial novelty of it soon wears off. I found the game very addictive for the first couple of days but then it got shoved to the back where it stayed for over a year! I tend to only use it now when myself and my friends are looking for some in house entertainment however I swear my scores were much higher sober!
The PSP 3000 is the latest and highest spec Playstation Prtable (PSP) that you can currently buy. A few years ago I owned one of the older models but sold it as I wasn't really playing it enough. If I am being honest I really wanted a PS3 but I couldn't warrant paying £300 for a console I would only use occasionally so I bought this portable console for £150.
The first thing that stood out to me was how much lighter and thinner this PSP seemed compared to my old one. The dimension of this console are H71 W170 D19 and it feels just right, not too light that it feels flimsy and not too heavy that it becomes uncomfortable when playing games for a long time. With a weight of only 189g it is amazing how much power and performance can be packed in to this small square box! The lcd screen takes up most of the front of the console and I must admit it is a bit prone to fingerprints! Sony claim that the graphics on this are equivalent to the Playstation 2 and I would certainly agree, if not say they were better on some games I have played! The colours are bright and the picture is really crisp. The improved screen on this console means that you don't get so many problems with glare from light now. It has been difficult to test it to its full extent due to the lack of sunshine we have at this time of year!
The PSP has a wireless feature so you can access the internet. Once I had set up the connection I found the loading of web pages painfully slow, it was like going back in time to the first days of dial up connection! I purchased this to play games, not surf the internet so I wasn't too bothered about this. The built in microphone and preloaded Skype means you can make phone calls and I have used this with success, even though it did seem a bit strange not holding a phone to my face! With the wireless function you can access Sony's online store and download game demos and various other features, some of which you need to pay for though. I started to download a free game demo but twenty minutes later it was still downloading so I gave up!
Games are loaded at the back of the console by flipping open a very flimsy flap where you slot the disc in. I am still nervous now of breaking this as it does seem very light and delicate! Once inserted the games are quick to load and you can select on your home page whether or not to start games automatically when inserted. The buttons seem sturdy which is reassuring if you are a bit heavy handed with games like myself! With its lack of built in memory it is worth pointing out at this point that you will need to buy a memory card to save your games. These range in price from £10 up to £40 depending on the capacity. In this day and age this still annoys me as I don't understand why they cannot build in the memory rather than you having to buy extras before you can even play a game. You can also watch films on the PSP by purchasing them in the UMD format. I have not bought any films for this yet as I would rather watch a movie on my full screen television!
After buying the memory card my second purchase was a protective case. This is a must for carrying the PSP around when not in use to save it from damage, I imaging that it is prone to scratches if not looked after properly. I bought a case with a few other extras for £15 from Argos and it was definitely worth it! Another extra you can buy is a camera to turn the PSP into a video and still camera. I have no intention of buying this as I already have a separate digital camera and also a camera on my mobile phone so I don't really need another one! Again I don't understand why they built in a microphone but no camera, surely it wouldn't have cost much more to put one in?
Battery life is pretty impressive. I am not sure what the makers claim but I have played this in an hour long stint and the battery was still going. If you run it down too low though it can take a couple of hours to charge up fully again. It amazes me that a console as powerful as this with such a big and bright display can hold it's charge for so long, I wish my mobile phone could do the same!
There are plenty of games on the market for the PSP. This is helped by the fact that the PSP has been around for a few years now and many of the games are the same ones that are available for Sony's standard home consoles. I really am spoilt for choice when choosing a new game and so far I haven't played a bad one, mind you I do read a lot of reviews before I decide on which game to buy!
Overall if you are looking for a portable console I highly recommend this. It's main competitor is Nintendo's DS Lite but the games are limited on the DS for the adult age group in my opinion. The PSP has a much better variety of games and is certainly more aimed at the hardcore gamer! There are games for every age and taste and you really are spoilt for choice. I am really pleased with my purchase and have become a bit of a PSP addict! The only complaint that I have is that my thumbs do ache a bit after playing for a while, I think this is referred to as Playstation thumb?!!
It's getting to that time of year again when we are all surrounded by the temptation of chocolate in it egg shaped form! My main weaknesses are these little beauties and Cadburys Mini Eggs. Cadburys Crème Eggs are in shops all year round so I don't know why I feel the need to overindulge just because Easter is just around the corner!
Ok, so you don't need to be a rocket scientist to work this one out, these little chocolate delights are egg shaped! They are wrapped in purple, red and yellow foil which you peel off to reveal your eggy delight. I have been frustrated on more than one occasion when the egg seemed to have seeped some of its sticky filling and the foil had stuck to the chocolate and I have had to pick it off in tiny little pieces!
The crème eggs consist of a nice thick chocolate shell with a whit and yellow 'gooy' filling, the colours to mimic a real egg (no, really I hear you say!!) Once you bit the top off you are presented with this stick substance that tastes very sickly but oh so good! You will be pleased to hear that the taste bears no resemblance to an egg which is just as well for me as I can't stand 'real' eggs! Cadbury's old advertising campaign was headed by the slogan 'how do you eat yours' as everyone seemed to have a different way of eating them. Some people bite the top off and lick and suck the sugary sticky inside out whilst others eat them in two bit bites! I personally take a couple of smaller mouthfuls until about half the egg is left and then m last mouthful is to devourer the remains in one go!
I unwrapped the egg ever so carefully to try and read the nutritional info for you but I still managed to tear it, even on my second attempt (that was a good excuse to eat two if I ever heard one!). I gave up and visited Cadbury's website at www.cadbury.co.uk and found the following information:
Per egg (39g):
27.7g carbohydrate (25.4g of which sugars)
6g fat (3.7g of which is saturated)
I was surprised to see fibre in there, are they good for me then? Maybe not with all those calories and fat! I only wish they weren't so scrummy as I have just eaten two and feel quite sick now! The things I do in the name of research! I am now trying to work out how many lengths of the pool I need to swim tomorrow night to burn off my double dosage!
In summary these are definitely one of my favourite chocolates and should be fully appreciated at all times of the year, not just at Easter! They may be a bit sickly for some people though and may not be suitable for children as they are not free from artificial colours.
Ryde is one of the largest towns on the Isle of Wight and is a popular tourist destination. It's popularity is helped by it's location as it is on the North coast of the Island and can be accessed from the mainland by either the hovercraft operated by Hovertravel or the catamaran operated by Wightlink. There is also a train station, bus station and many large car parks making it easy to access when on the Island.
I personally do not live in Ryde but have family and friends who do so I frequent the town on a regular basis and even went to school there so I have had many years experience of this town. Ryde is certainly a town with divided opinions both among it's residents and Islanders from other towns. It has a bad reputation for its nightlife and there is often trouble on the streets, mainly on a Friday and Saturday night. There are often problems in large towns with many pubs due to anti-social behaviour and I don't think Ryde is any worse, it is certainly no worse than our overseas neighbour Portsmouth! I have had many a good night out in Ryde over the years however I must admit I do tend to avoid it now for nights out unless it is a special occasion!
Ryde is a typical Island seaside tourist town. Along the esplanade there are many amusement arcades, cheap cafes and tacky gift shops with hotels to match. The sandy beaches are very popular in the summer and there is even an area for beach football which makes for entertaining viewing in the summer! I believe the sand is imported (don't ask me where from!!) to top up the natural sand and is an amazing golden colour, just like a tropical beach! At low tide you can walk for a good ten minutes out to sea in water less than an inch deep. I absolutely love walking along the beach in the summer with ice cream in hand!
Appley Park is another popular attraction in Ryde. Here you can play mini golf, grab a bit to eat in the café or just relax in the grounds with a picnic or bbq. It can get quite busy here at peak times so it is worth while turning up early if you are planning a day out to make sure you can get a parking space. There is a boating lake in Ryde complete with pedal powered swans, oh, and real ones! I swear some of the real swans get a bit too friendly sometimes with their plastic counterparts! You certainly know that summer has arrived when you hear the characteristic creaking of the pedals in the background when sat on the beach! Next to the boating lake is a council run swimming pool. This pool has a retractable roof which they slide back in the summer. I am pleased to say they keep it firmly closed in the winter though!
Ryde does not have the best selection of shops on the Island and every time I drive down the main street I see shops closing and new ones opening! The shops are there to satisfy your basic needs but if you need to go clothes shopping Newport has much more to offer. Ryde probably struggles a bit due to the fact that Portsmouth is only a 15 minute ferry trip away! Ryde does however have a large Tesco superstore on its outskirts which people travel to from all over the Island, including myself! If you can't find what you are looking for in town I am sure you will be able to here, it's massive!
One thing to bear in mind with Ryde it is very hilly! The esplanade is flat however Union Street (known locally as Onion or Bunion Street!) is very steep and here is where you will find all the shops and pubs. Union Street leads on to the High Street which is not as steep but still an uphill climb none the less! When I have gone out on pub crawls in the past I have always started at the top of the hill and worked my way down! It's a real pain though if you run out of money at the bottom of the hill as the cash point is at the top so withdraw before your descent!
In summary I would say that Ryde has everything to offer tourists and residents alike. There is a swimming pool, mini golf, ice skating rink, cinema and plenty of pubs and restaurants. It has a bad reputation for it's night life and anti social behaviour which does affect my overall rating for this town. Visit in the day and you will have no problems!
Hancock was released in 2008 and directed by Peter Berg. It stars the well know actors such as Will Smith who plays John Hancock, Jason Bateman who plays Ray Embrey and Charlize Theron who plays Ray's wife Mary. I must admit that I do not tend to go out of my way to watch superhero films but I was aware that this was one with a difference and being a fan of Will Smith I decided to give it a go.
Hancock is a superhero with a difference. Hancock has all the usual superhero traits such as the ability to fly and super strength however his gifts seem to be more of a hindrance to him. Most superheroes go about their daily lives saving people and fighting crime, Hancock however is a drunk with no respect for other people or their property. Hancock does fight crime and save lives however he tends to cause chaos and destruction whilst doing so and rather than being loved and adored he is hated and the public are in uproar at the damage to buildings he causes and his drunken behaviour.
Hancock strikes up an unlikely friendship with Ray when he saves him from certain death when his car gets trapped on a level crossing with a train thundering towards him. Rather than jus lift the car out the way Hancock also stops the train causing it to derail and angers the crowds with his behaviour. Ray backs him up stating he just saved his life however the public do not care and are sick of Hancock's disruption. Ray offers to act as a PR on behalf of Hancock and they work together to improve Hancock's reputation and get the public back on his side. Hancock soon regains the respect of the public but not without having to serve time in jail for his crimes and giving up his drink.
Right from the start of this film you are in the grip of the action with some fantastic special effects. There are some great action scenes in this film that really keep your attention however the plot itself is unfortunately not so well delivered. The action is mixed with humour and there are some quite funny scenes in the film but I would rather have sacrificed the humour for a deeper plot. The best parts of the film were in the trailers that I had previously seen, including the scene where Hancock returns a beached whale to the sea by literally throwing him back, only for it to land on a sailing boat and capsize it!
Will Smith did play the role of this lazy drunk superhero quite well. He has the ability to play a range of roles in films and always manages to bring a bit of humour and depth to the characters he plays. Once I had got over the initial shock of seeing him flying I soon began to warm to the character and I am not sure I would have done this if Hancock had been played by a more serious actor without Will's reputation and acting ability. I feel that Charleze was wasted in this role. She is a very talented actress but I do feel she is worthy of a much better role than this. Jason Bateman also delivers a solid role but again I feel his talents were a bit wasted. I did feel at times that Charleze and Jason were just there to make up the numbers as there are very few shots in the film where Will Smith does not make an appearance!
I did enjoy this different take on a superhero film but I could not help feeling a bit disappointed in it. The plot is good but I do feel that it could have been delivered in a better way so that the film would be enjoyed more by and older audience, it seemed a bit childish throughout and aimed at a younger audience. I would like to have seen a greater role from the two leading actors other than Will Smith as the entire film is focused on him and I like to see a range of characters to keep me entertained. The action scenes and special effects really were good and they are what kept my star rating up on this film, without them I would probably have give it a two! In summary this is a watchable film and a lighthearted take on a superhero but I think it could have been so much better!
The Accidental Husband was released in 2008 and was directed by Griffin Dunne. The film is basically a typical American romantic comedy that follows the love triangle story between New York fire fighter Patrick Sullivan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), Dr Emma Lloyd (Uma Thurman) and Richard (Colin Firth). I am a fan of all these actors, especially Colin Firth and was looking forward to seeing an American romcom with a bit of English sparkle to it!
Dr Emma is a counsellor who has her own radio show where she take listeners calls and offers them relationship advice. Patricks fiancé phones the show and Emma advises her to call of the wedding which she duly does, leaving Patrick distraught and with no explanation other than what he heard on the radio! Patrick sets out to get revenge on Emma, who is about to get married herself to Englishman Richard. Patrick's neighbour hacks into the government database and fakes a marriage certificate between Patrick and Emma, meaning she cannot marry again! When Emma finds out about this so called marriage she tracks Patrick down and demands an explanation as to why she is apparently married to a man she has never met! She demands that he signs the annulment papers so she can marry her fiancé Richard.
This is basically all there is to the film and whilst it is a pleasant enough film to watch there isn't really a very strong plot. Many films have smaller plots running through them but apart from the small stories involving the Indian family that Patrick lives with there really isn't anything else. There seemed to be efforts to start other stories in the film such as the relationship between Emma and her father but these didn't really amount to anything.
The acting is very average really and somewhat cheesy in places. Colin Firth was brilliant as usual but I couldn't help feeling slightly embarrassed for him in this film as I think he is worth a lot more! I couldn't really fault the acting of Uma but I just found this a very strange casting for her and I don't think the character really suited her. Uma is a fantastic actress and I feel she has really let herself down by playing a part as poor as this.
The plot itself was very predictable, I won't give the ending away but within the first ten minutes of the film you can pretty much figure it out for yourself! There seemed to be directing issues with the film and continuity problems as well. I am not always the most observant of film watchers, especially if I have a glass of wine in hand but I even I managed to spot some of the mistakes!
Overall I must confess that despite its flaws I did quite enjoy watching the film and it made a pleasant change after a long week at work not to have to think too hard about the plot and characters! It is not a bad romcom but when compared to other classics such as PS I Love You it really falls by the wayside.
I was first introduced to Buzz whilst playing a quiz game on my friends Xbox and I was hooked so I decided to find out if there were any games from this yellow haired professor on the Playstation Portable. After a brief search I came across this game and decided that my brain could do with a bit more exercise so decided to give it a go!
Brain Bender is basically a game that has been brought out by Sony to rival the Nintendo DS's Brain Training. These kinds of game seem to be very popular and it was only a matter of time before Sony jumped on the band wagon, be it a bit late! Brain Bender is basically a puzzle game and it's head line is 'Build Yourself a Better Brain With Buzz'! I have only been playing this game for a few weeks and I am not sure that my brain has got any bigger but I have had a lot of fun trying!
The game is split in to four categories, designed to test different parts of your brain. These four categories are memory, observation, analysis and calculation. The game consist of sixteen mini games each with three levels of difficulty of easy, medium and hard. I have to confess to only having played the easy levels of the games so far and they seemed quite tough in places so I guess I will have to keep practicing! After playing some of the games a few times I soon got the hang of them, I think my earlier trouble was that Buzz did not give very clear instructions on what to do (that's my excuse anyway!).
All the games have multiple choice answers and you must select the correct answer by hitting the corresponding key on the right hand side of the console. The games are quite varied and range from basic mathematical calculations to counting shapes. You receive a score for each game you complete and will be awarded wither a bronze, silver or gold star depending on how well you have done. Once you have received a star in each game you begin to unlock the challenge modes which test your skills further. To unlock some of the challenges you need to complete all the games in medium and hard difficulties so I may be a while of this one yet!
Throughout the game you can ear what are called Boffin Awards. These are awarded for various achievements and help to keep you motivated! There is also a multiplayer option where up to six players can compete against each other. You can set up and save each players profile on the game so they can train on their own on the same console. There is a test option on the game which you can take to see how much you have improved over time.
Brain Bender isn't really anything new in its concept however it is a much brighter and more interesting game than many other similar ones I have played. The bright colours and hosting by Buzz give the game a slightly comical feel. The graphics on the game are some of the best that I have seen on the PS and the sound is good too. I quite often have this playing with my headphones on the commute to work but I am sure my facial expressions and gasps of breath may annoy some fellow passengers! Buzz himself can be a bit repetitive and annoying at times but the good thing about this game is that you can skip through his intros. If you do skip them though he will still make a little comment such as 'hmmm', or 'nope', in other words sod you then! I do find this quite amusing!
Overall I would highly recommend this game. I would not say that it is addictive and I do feel that it may have a short shelf life for players as once you have unlocked all the challenges there really isn't anything to keep you coming back other than improving your scores. The multiplayer is fun though where you can compete against each other in the same mini game, especially when you try and distract your opponent when they are trying to concentrate! I do still enjoy this game although the most I tend to play it is half an hour at a time otherwise I tend to get more of a brain ache than a brain bender!