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A Beautiful Mind is one of the most moving and extraordinary films released in a long time. It follows the story of John Nash, a brilliant mathematician who sadly suffered at the hands of schizophrenia throughout his career. We first meet Nash when he begins his mathematics studies at Princeton University. His behaviour is slightly strange, but we learn that he is striving to come up with an original idea for his doctorate paper. Ideas are not flowing however, and Nash views this as a failure on his part. Supported and encouraged by his room mate, Nash studies hard trying to develop his theory, but as a result, does not attend lectures. After getting a warning from lecturers, Nash hits upon the revolutionary idea of his game theory. One of his students, Alicia, becomes interested in Nash, and the two become a couple. Nash is enlisted by the US government to help with their code-breaking operations during the war, and becomes embroiled in top secret work which he takes very seriously. During this work, Nash's behaviour becomes a lot more unusual and disturbed, and he becomes paranoid that the Russians are persuing him and trying to kill him. Nash and his wife have a baby, but Nash cannot interact with the child, and becomes almost completely withdrawn from society. He is committed to a mental hospital after his paranoia takes over in a lecture he is giving. He is diagnosed as schizophrenic, and undergoes repeated treatment, in the form of drugs and electroconvulsive shock therapy. He seems to make a temporary recovery, and stops taking the drugs. After suffering a relapse and all but wrecking his marriage, he recommences his treatment and over the years, makes a gradual recovery. He returns to Princeton as part of his recovery program, and starts to teach mathematics. Nash wins the Nobel Prize in 1994 for his gaming theory that he contraversially developed over 50 years previously during his studies at Princeton. The s
ympathetic and graphic interpretation of the terrible personality disorder that Nash suffers from makes this film absolutely outstanding. It goes some way to dispelling the myths that surround schizophrenia - that it is a split personality etc. We get a wonderful insight into the detail of Nash's delusions, and Russell Crowe's portrayal is breathtaking. A real rollercoaster of a story, with a few surprising twists and turns, this has to be one of my favourite films of all time!
I’m so excited. I’ve got tickets to see John Hegley on his Autumn/Winter tour. I discovered John Hegley a few years ago now, whilst I was at university. He did a gig at City Hall in Sheffield, and I went to see him with a mate. I haven’t laughed so much in ages. For those of you uninitiated into the world of this strange phenomenon, I’ll give you a brief introduction. John Hegley was born in 1953 in Newington Green, and moved to Luton at an early age. After leaving school he worked as a bus conductor and social security clerk, until he went to Bradford University, where he supplemented his grant by working as a nurse in a local mental hospital. He worked with two children's theatre groups and began his highly successful career at the Comedy Store in 1980. He appeared in the John Peel sessions on Radio One in 1983/4, with songs about glasses and the misery of human existence. His first book, ‘Glad to Wear Glasses’ was published in 1990, and since then he’s written another 6 books, packed with hysterically funny verse, prose and mad drawings of dogs. He has also produced a cassette entitled ‘Saint and Blurry’. Other books include ‘Can I come down now, Dad?’, ‘Five Sugars Please’, ‘Love Cuts’, and ‘These were your father’s’. I've seen him twice now - he has a small group who appear with him to provide the music that some of his poems are set to. He has a miserable side-kick called Nigel, on guitar, and last time I saw him, there was also a woman playing double bass. He's even been known to do a spot of morris dancing on stage! One of the best bits of his live gigs is the interval - he sets the audience a task (writing a poem, obviously), and then reads them out at the start of the second half. If you’ve ever read or listened to any of his work, you’ll know he has an obsession with several
things – namely dogs, glasses and trains. Not very funny you might think, but think again. His poems shatter the common myth that poetry has to rhyme, and his use of timing is key. Although the poems are funny written down, you miss out on an important part of the whole experience if you haven’t seen him live, or listened to him. He is truly ridiculous, sometimes nonsensical, but very very funny. Relaxing with Taxidermy When their chihuahua got stuffed they were really chuffed, no need to feed her or walkies on a lead her no more poop to scoop and doesn't she look smashing on the mantle piece? She'll always look at the camera now. I don't know why we bothered having her alive at all. Luton I remember Luton When I’m swallowing my crouton Imagine my excitement if you will, when I discovered that John embarked upon an Autumn tour on 23rd September. A quick visit to his website, and 15 minutes later I was the thrilled owner of two tickets to his show at the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith in January 2002. I can’t wait. He is touring until the end of January, and rumour has it that he is starting a new series on Radio 4 this Autumn. He has also been the BBC’s Resident Poet for some time. To read some more of John’s poems, check out his website at www.johnhegley.co.uk, or the BBC website at www.bbc.co.uk/arts/poetry. If you fancy some intelligent but wacky humour, he comes highly recommended, even though his poems aren’t about cheese! As a parting shot, here's my favourite Hegly poem:- There was a young martian from space Who entered a three legged race He wasn't that fast In fact he came last Because he was a bag of over-ready chips
Double Gloucester (DG) is an absolutely gorgeous cheese. It’s an old English traditional semi-hard cheese that has been made in Gloucestershire since the sixteenth century. Bit of useless information - cheese merchants used to pay close attention to the robustness of the rind. They used to jump on it with both feet to test it. If the rind didn't crack, the cheese was safe to travel – cool! Talk about cheesy feet!! The full-cream milk in Double Gloucester gives it characteristic, rich, buttery taste and flaky texture. It is firm and biteable, and lovely and creamy. The colour is pale orange. Double Gloucester is fine as a cheese in its own right, but I have now discovered Sainsbury’s do a Double Gloucester with chives. WOW!! It is lovely. Not only do you have the firm creamy cheesiness of the DG, but you have a real kick of onion-ness. It comes in a really pleasing triangular shape, and because of the chive content, is flecked with green, making it look quite interesting. As it has such a strong flavour, I think it’s best eaten with plain crackers, like Cream Crackers or Hovis biscuits. If you’re a real onion freak though, I reckon you can’t beat accompanying it with Jacob’s onion Cream Crackers. Mmmmmmm – I’ve made myself hungry now, and it’s hours till I go home……
The story of tea is nearly 5,000 years old. Tea was reputedly discovered in 2737 b.c. by a Chinese emperor when some tea leaves accidentally blew into a pot of boiling water. As a scientist, the Emperor was interested in the new liquid, drank some, and found it very refreshing. In the 1600s tea became popular throughout Europe and the American colonies. there are basically three types of tea – · black tea, which has been fully oxidized or fermented, for example English Breakfast and Darjeeling · green tea, which has not been oxidized, and is therefore more delicate and lighter in colour. Green tea has been linked with reduced cancer risk, so is increasingly popular, although personally, I think it doesn’t have a very nice taste. · oolong tea – somewhere in between black and green, popular in the Far East. By far my favourite is Earl Grey. I tend to buy Twinings, but Sainsbury’s own is almost as good. Earl Grey was named for Charles Grey, the second earl in his line, who was also prime minister to King William IV in the early 19th century. The Earl is said to have been given the recipe by a Chinese mandarin with whom he was friends, and populared the tea in the 19th century. Earl Grey is the second most popular tea in the world. Premium teas, like Earl Grey, are made from the most tender young leaves on the plant. These produce a more gentle and more flavourful tea than older leaves (which are probably used for Typhoo and PG Tips). The altitude at which the tea is grown also has an effect on the tea, a bit like wine. Soil and weather conditions produce a huge variety of falvours. Tea plants grow more slowly at higher altitudes, which allows the leaves to stay succulent and tender. Earl Grey is a black tea, and is a blend of Indian and Sri Lankan teas. It is quite smoky, and kinda sweet, and gets its unique flavour from bergamot oil. Supposedly, Earl Grey is best served plain, but I like just a
splash of milk in it. I like it quite weak too – it tends to be slightly bitter if left to brew for too long. To get the best out of this tea, you should only use freshly boiled water. Water that has been boiled then reboiled loses its oxygen, which you need for the flavour of the tea to come out. You should also pour the water onto the tea while it is still boiling – water that’s come off the boil does not allow the tea to brew properly. For full flavour, I suppose you should let the tea brew for 2-3 minutes, but I find this produced too strong a flavour. Depends on your personal taste really! Then you get into the great debate – milk first, or tea first? We used to think this was a Scottish/English thing, as I was brought up in Scotland and put milk in last, and Mr Cheesemonster, being terribly English, put the milk in first. But there is some science to it – honest! Historically, the china cups were thought to be quite delicate, so milk was therefore always poured in first to cool the tea as it was poured. Well, now we know that china is quite tough, that’s not an issue, but there are those who say if you put the milk in first, the tea scorches it. I’m sure there’s some specific heat capacity theory that I don’t know about………. And Tea is good for you too, but it does contain caffeine – about the same as in a can of Coke. Green tea is much better for you as it contains about half that amount of caffeine. I know Earl Grey is an acquired taste – most of my friends don’t like it, but I love it. There’s nothing quite like scones and jam on the patio on a Sunday afternoon, with a nice cup of Earl Grey. And don’t forget – there’s definitely something to be said for drinking tea out of bone china cup. It does make a difference (maybe it just makes you feel more elegant and sophisticated!).
What better for breaking up heavy clay soil than potatoes? They could not possibly be easier to grow, and everyone knows how versatile they are! No matter what size of vegetable plot or piece of garden you have to spare, you should be able to grow potatoes no problem. You can either buy seed potatoes, which come in loads of different varieties, or if you find a variety you like, leave some to sprout shoots and just plant them. There are potatoes to suit every purpose and time of year - Charlotte's or Jersey Royals for salads in summer, Maris Piper for roasting and mashing etc etc. We've even planted the bog standard 'white potatoes' and had a good crop, which are fine for baking or mashing. It's probably a good idea to keep the area planted, so that you have a continuous supply throughout the year. All you need to do is dig over a patch of soil (it's good if you can add some manure). Make a small trench (or several) and just place the sprouting potatoes in the trench, leaving quite a large gap between (about 1 foot). Rows should be relatively far apart too, about another foot should do, but further if space allows. Then all you have to do is wait. The shoots will appear amazingly quickly - and when they do, you should cover them up with a mound of soil - something to do with reaching the light..... If you're like me, you'll be really impatient to harvest your crop, but you need to wait...and wait....and wait a bit more.... They are ready to harvest after the plants have flowered and the leaves start to die back and turn yellow. Even after the leaves are completely dead, the tatties will be there waiting for you. Oh, and be careful when you're digging them up. A big garden fork is the best thing to use, but be gentle! You don't want to end up sticking the prong of the fork through those lovely earthy orbs..... You won't believe the soil texture either - we hav
e really bad clay soil, which is quite stony, but after there have been potatoes in it for one season, it is lovely and crumbly and non-sticky - amazing!
I hate that time of year when people start asking what you want for Christmas. It’s a lot of effort to think of exciting new things, and it eliminates the element of surprise on Chrimstmas morning, when you know what you’ve asked for…. Imagine my delight when my mother-in-law surprised me last year with a bread-maker! I was so chuffed. In my own soppy, romanticized little world, I’d always wanted to make my own bread, but was too scared of complete and utter failure (like I witnessed with my own mum’s bread!) to try. But with a bread-maker, it couldn’t be easier. The model I was given was a Kenwood Rapid Bake. It is quite big, so a bit difficult to store when not using. It’s only slightly smaller than a microwave oven, so not that easy to stick in a cupboard out of the way. Mine lives on top of the tumble drier in the kitchen…. Having said that it’s quite big, it is amazingly compact. It has 13 automatic programmes, and is very easy to use (let’s face it, if I can use it, anyone can!). It comes with an instruction leaflet (and a ‘getting started’ recipe), as well as a more varied recipe book. Inside the machine, there is a non-stick bread pan, which is fully removable, and you get a measuring cup and spoon as well. You can make loaves up to 2lb in weight, and there is a dough cycle program if you just want to mix, knead and rise the dough before shaping it into whatever you want. It even has a jam making facility, although I haven’t tried that yet….. The control panel is really neat, with flat buttons on a keypad. The panel is wipe clean too, which is great when you’ve been flinging flour all over the place! The instruction leaflet has detailed breakdowns of all the program and what they do, and as well as just being able to set the cycle going straight away, there is a delay function, which allows you to pre-program the cycle to start up
to 12 hours later. This is fantastic, because you can wake up on a Saturday morning to the smell of freshly baked bread…..heaven! There is a 1 hour rapid bake program too, but I haven’t tried that. Perhaps the most entertaining thing about the bread-maker is the fact that it has a little viewing window in the top, so you can watch the whole process from start to finish. (yup – that’s how I spend my weekends…). You can even open the top and poke about in the dough if you so wish, but now during the cooking part of the cycle. An average 1.5lb white loaf takes about 3 hours from start to finish, and comes out with a lovely crusty outside. It’s best to leave the loaf for about 30 minutes before attempting to slice it, because it does have a tendency to fall apart if it’s still warm. To make a basic white loaf, all you need is water, flour, salt, sugar, butter, dried milk and of course yeast. You just put all the ingredients in the breadpan in the recommended order(not forgetting to put the kneader in first, like I did!), and Bob’s your Auntie. 3 hours later, a wonderful, warm golden loaf. There are lots of recipes and bread-mixes around, which I haven’t been brave enough to try out yet. I did buy some mixes from Lakeland Limited, which were really nice, but usually I stick to making white bread. Can’t seem to get the granary loaf right either – that one nearly broke my foot! Oh, and it’s lovely with cheese…………………….lots of cheese………….
Glencot House Hotel, Wookey Hole If you fancy a relaxing, romantic weekend away, then Glencot House could be just what you’re looking for. I discovered it on www.information-britain.co.uk, when I was looking for a hideaway to take Mr Cheesemonster for our second wedding anniversary. Located just outside the village of Wookey Hole, in Somerset, it’s a little oasis of luxury hidden away down a leafy lane. The house, which is a gorgeous Victorian mansion, is set in 18 acres of grounds and parkland, and looks out over the river. With only 13 rooms, it is small enough to have those little personal touches that make it special. We booked a four poster room, with ensuite facilities. Each room has a colour TV, and ‘hospitality tray’, containing coffee and tea making facilities. Our room even had a rocking chair!! We received a warm welcome on our arrival, and booked a table in the restaurant for dinner. The restaurant is also open to non-residents, but was quite spacious and very comfortable. You have the option of taking your pre-dinner drinks in the drawing room, which has a lovely panoramic views of the garden and river. Your order is taken while you enjoy your drink, then you are taken through to the dining room. The menu was quite varied, and catered for vegetarians, and was a set price of £25 per person. Well worth it – the food was gorgeous!! I had duck and leek terrine, while Mr Cheesemonster had mushroom and garlic soup. Both were accompanied by warm bread rolls. Then we both had lamb shank, on a bed of lentils, peppers and red onion. The lamb was beautifully tender, and big enough even to satisfy my appetite! For dessert, we had crème brulee, which was really thick and creamy, followed by coffee and hand made chocolates. You can also order wine from the extensive wine list. Breakfast was just as delicious. There was cereal, fruit and yogurt, then you could order a cooked breakfast of your c
hoice from the selection available – bacon, eggs (fried, poached, scrambled or boiled), sausage, tomato and mushrooms, or a vegetarian cooked breakfast. This was all accompanied by tea or coffee, fruit juice and toast (made from home-made bread). The hotel also has a sauna, swimming pool, table tennis room and snooker room. We took advantage of the table tennis and snooker, but didn’t quite make it to the pool or sauna…. We did go for a walk in the grounds though, which was lovely. Although a little on the pricey side, Glencot House is a perfect place for getting away from it all. It’s close to Bath, Bristol,Wells, Wookey Hole and Cheddar Gorge, which makes it an ideal base for tourists. The hotel welcomes well behaved children and dogs (there are two resident dogs, which love sleeping in the entrance hall and tripping people up!). And they take credit cards, so payment is easy….
I was brought up with two obsessive birdwatchers, so I guess birdwatching is instinctive by now. You don't have to know a huge amount or spend lots of money on this hobby. Once you start, as long as you have a good field guide to help you out, it's remarkably easy to pick up which birds are which. Think about the birds you see in your garden - you probably know the names of most of them, so that's a good start! What equipment you have really depends on how seriously you want to take this hobby. My dad for instance has expensive binoculars, telescope, tripod, dictophone to make notes on, and all the bird books that have ever been published (nearly - he's so keen he's even written one himself!). Me - I'm content with a good field guide - 'Birds of Britain and Europe by Lars Jonsson) and a good pair of binocs. Buying binoculars can be a daunting task, especially if you're like me and don't have a clue what you're looking for. We eventually bought ours at an RSPB reserve shop - the guy there was really helpful and extremely knowledgable, and was able to guide us to the right binoculars for the kind of use we wanted to make of them. I think they cost about £80, and are 8x40 magnification. They're great! Birdwatching is one of the few hobbies I can think of that you can do absolutely anywhere in the world, and you can enter into it at so many different levels of keenness. Everywhere you go there are birds - and believe it or not, it can actually be fun to watch them. Anyone can do it - even my husband, who is partially sighted, enjoys the odd dabble! It gets you out and about, takes you to places you might otherwise not have gone, and especially in the British climate, can be an invigorating experience!
I've discovered a gem, so I thought I'd be nice and share it with you all! If you've been to Bradford-on-Avon before, you'll know what a lovely place it is. Set in the lovely Wiltshire countryside, it is bursting with character, there are some beautiful buildings and shops, and some gorgeous walks through the village and along the canal. The perfect place to wander round on a lazy Sunday afternoon. There are a number of pubs in the town, but on the main street, we discovered a lovely restaurant called The Dandy Lion. You go in the front door and find yourself in a pub with scrubbed wooden tables and a proper English pub atmosphere. No sanitised coke and lager pub chain here! If you want to eat in the restaurant upstairs, you need to check with the bar staff, and generally need to wait a few minutes before they take you up. The staircase up to the restaurant is fantastic - there is a large shelf halfway up with load of old antiques on. There are candles everywhere, and it really is quite cosy and romantic! And the food!!! I went with hubby, and we decided to just have a main course, and as we were driving, we didn't have any wine. He had pork and peppers in a mustard sauce, which was lovely. I had roast guinea fowl in redwine and mushroom sauce. You get the choice from a long list of side dishes including baked potato, new potatoes, cheesy garlic potatoes, salad, and mixed veg. We both opted for the cheesy garlic potatoes and mixed veg. So often in restaurants you either don't get very much veg, or it's over cooked, but on both counts, this was perfect. We had carrots, mange tout and mashed swede, and as for the cheesy garlic potatoes, well, they were out of this world - really garlicky and very creamy - YUM! As I said, we didn't have pudding, but I did notice they had hot chocolate fudge cake - maybe next time! Other dishes on the menu included mussels, sea bass, steaks and soup. Although
the restaurant is classed as a la carte, (so we thought it would be quite pricy, and there's no menu outside), we got quite a pleasant surprise when we got the bill. Drinks included (2 beers and 2 cokes), it came to just over £10 each, which for that quality of food and service was a bargain indeed!
I discovered Applewood Smoked cheddar one Christmas when my mum bought it as a special Christmas treat for us. I’m not usually a huge fan of smoked things, finding the flavours a bit overpowering. I don’t like things like smoky bacon crisps, but this cheese is GORGEOUS. The smokiness does vary a bit from cheese to cheese, but generally it isn’t too strong. It’s not as crumbly as some cheddars – in fact it’s quite dense and creamy. It tastes tangy and smoky and wonderfully rich, and I find it doesn’t usually need any accompaniment other than crackers or crusty bread. Not only does it taste sublime, but it looks good too! It doesn’t seem to have a rind, but the outside is a lovely creamy yellow colour, and you can eat every single morsel of it. Don’t be put off because it’s smoky – this really brings out the flavour and being the cheesemonster, I could quite happily polish off huge helpings of this every day!! It’s slightly more expensive than your average block of cheese, and is generally only available at the deli counter in the supermarket, but it’s well worth hunting it down and trying some. It’s lovely in sandwiches, with some tasty coarse paté and watercress, with apricot chutney. Utter heaven…… and Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without some Applewood Smoked these days!
Without giving too much away, here’s a brief run-down of the story. When his parents are killed in a freak accident, a baby Harry Potter is left with his Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon, and their horrible spoilt brat of a sun Dudley. They are really horrible to Harry, locking him in the cupboard under the stairs, not feeding him properly and making him do all the household chores. When Harry turns 11, mysterious letter start to arrive for him, but Uncle Vernon confiscates them all. It transpires that Harry is a wizard, only he didn’t know it. His parents were wizards too, but Vernon and Petunia were scared of them, so they wanted to keep it a secret from Harry so he wouldn’t do any magic around them. Harry eventually finds out when a huge giant (Hagrid) turns up at his house and tells him that he has a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft. He tells him what happened to his parents and how Voldemort (a big bad wizard of the Dark Arts) tried to kill him but was unable to. Harry sets off to Hogwarts and meets Ron Weasley and his family, who are all wizards too. The descriptions of the school and the adventures they have are absolutely fantastic. This is seriously addictive reading! Rowling’s characters are all so believable (while being unbelievable!) – you can relate to all the teachers in one way or another, and Harry and his friends Ron and Hermione get into some right scrapes. The story centres on a mysterious locked room that is guarded by a vicious three headed dog. The three kids try to discover what is in the room, and land themselves in detention after detention, getting lots of house points deducted for their bad behaviour (they are all in Gryffindor House – there are four houses, Slytherin, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff are the others, but Slytherin is home to all the ‘baddies’). Amid all this mystery, they have fun with Harry’s invisibility cloak, end up in the Forbidden Fores
t, play Quidditch (a ball game played on broomsticks) and generally have an excellent time. For anyone who thinks Harry Potter is just for kids, think again! For fans of the Famous Five and the Secret Seven (only this is a bit more up-to-date), this is a must. I’ve read the first three in the series, and although they are a bit formula written (all following the same pattern), the story lines are all absolutely brilliant, and keep you totally hooked. Get out there and read some Harry Potter!!
So everyone’s aware of the controversy surrounding the cult film of Burgess’ masterpiece. I must admit, it was the main reason I wanted to read the book in the first place. My sense of sick curiousity finally got the better of me this year, and I settled down to see what all the fuss was about. The story tells of the life of troubled teen, Alex, and his gang of mates (droogs). The gang goes around raping and committing horrible acts of violence on innocent people, just for kicks. Essentially they are bored – a sad, if a little extreme reflection of society and the effect it can have on idle minds. I was surprised to find myself feeling sorry for Alex at times – not identifying with him as such, but Burgess does portray a sensitive side to him, and that softens the character somewhat. Alex is a keen fan of Beethoven, really appreciating the music he hears. This is a stark contrast present throughout the book – from the violent sick acts Alex commits as part of the gang, we move to calmer scenes of him lying in his room at home listening to Beethoven, calm and serene. The most outstanding feature of the book, and the one I enjoyed the most, was the language. Burgess invents a whole new language – a teen language – which the gang use when talking to each other. The contruction of this language is strange to say the least, and the origins of some words can be guessed, but I found this aspect fascinating. Words like ‘malenky’ (little), ‘droog’ (friend) and ‘maloko’ (milk) baffle the reader to begin with, but they are repeated so often throughout the book that you find you soon pick up exactly what the dialogue means. It can be offputting to start with, slowing the ‘translation’ of the book down, but if you persevere, hopefully you will find it adds to the story, rather than detracting from it. Aside from the violence (which is quite horrific at times) and
the language, I think the story poses some interesting observations on human behaviour and society. When Alex is finally arrested for the atrocities he has committed, he experiences violence at the hands of the police, and realises what he has been inflicting on others. He remains remorseless, although very afraid, until he begins some controversial treatment as a ‘guinea pig’. The treatment he undergoes is essentially a conditioning process – he is forced to witness acts of violence similar and worse than his own whilst listening to music. In the end, the pain he feels when he hears the music detracts from him wanting to commit crime, and he finds he cannot. Unfortunately, he can no longer listen to the music he loves either – another pang of sympathy for the unlikely hero. Although I did enjoy the book (I’ve never seen the film), it did leave me feeling quite strange. It’s a very odd and somewhat disturbing story, but very interestingly written, and is certainly food for thought. All in all, I’m glad I discovered for myself what all the controversy was about – I can see why the film caused such a stir. Curiosity satisfied!!
I discovered Port Salut some time ago, but it still remains one of my firm favourites when it comes to cheese. So many cheese gourmets and connoisseurs wax lyrical about all these fancy cheeses that no-one has never heard of, and makes out that the really smelly ones are the best, but in my experience, that is not necessarily the case. I'm not particularly into really strong cheese (apart from a nice mature cheddar - English of course), so my tastes do fall on the mild side. Port Salut is beautiful and creamy - it is quite a dense creaminess, a bit like really really thick Dairylea, but with a nice clean mild taste. It has an orange rind which is edible, and not hard like some rinds, but I always cut this off - not to my taste! Sometimes it doesn't really taste like cheese at all, because it hasn't got the characteristic cheesiness about it. It goes with anything - crackers, toast, grapes, crispbreads, french bread - I quite often just eat chunks of it on its own to savour the lovely taste. If you haven't tried it, or don't like strong cheese, this is one delicious gourmet experience you are definitely missing out on!
I am sick fed up of people damning public transport - I am a regular user both of the bus and the train, and although admittedly I have experienced the occasional delay/hiccup, I would like to stick up for it. From the time I left home to go to university, I was reliant on public transport to get around. I used the train to go from Sheffield to Scotland to visit my parents - I don't recall any major problems. I used the buses around Sheffield - again very reliable, and cheap. After leaving uni, it was a year before I got a car, so once again I relied on buses and trains. Even now I have a car, I get the bus to work. Who in their right minds wants to get in the car 30 minutes before they need to, just to sit in a queue of traffic? Where I live, we are one minute's walk away from the bus stop, and there is a bus lane all the way into the town centre, meaning we bypass all the queues in the morning and evening. It's great! With all the press the trains have been getting lately I would like to put a good word in for them too. I went from Swindon to London by train today for work, and it all ran like clockwork. The staff on First Great Western Trains and the London underground were all cheerful and very helpful, which made the journey even more pleasant. The only thing I would say is that the fare was quite high, but before the cost of public transport can come down, I think the cost of running a car has to go up considerably. To get people to use public transport requires cars to be all but priced off the roads, then once more people go public, the cost of public transport can start to come down. But sometimes when there are several people going to the same place together, it works out more economical to drive. So give it a go - it's not as bad as everyone makes out, and it's a lot less stressful than driving in heavy traffic. Take time out for quiet reflection!
This album is perfect when you?ve had a long frustrating day at work. I love to come home and sit down in a darkened room to listen to this. It is packed full of some of the most beautiful classical music around. A large proportion of the 3 CDs is quite well known music, such as 'Nimrod' from Elgar's Enigma Variations, 'The Swan' from Saint-Saens' Carnival of the Animals, and Grieg's 'Morning' from Peer Gynt. Then there are pieces you will recognise from films, like the theme from Schindler's List (by John Williams), which has one of the most haunting violin melodies I have ever heard, and the theme from 'The Deer Hunter'. Then there are lesser heard pieces, ranging from movements fromRachmaninov's 2nd symphony (if you haven't heard this, you're missing out big time), Mozart's Clarinet concerto, Vivaldi's Four Seasons, Mendelssohn, Ravel, Beethoven and a wonderful arrangement for voices of Barber's Adagio for Strings. This album 'does exactly what it says on the tin'. It is really relaxing and lovely to listen too, and as well as containing popular well known classics, strikes a great balance with not so well known pieces and 'different' arrangements. It's a truly uplifting listening experience.