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Frankie & Benny's was always a bit weird to me. I wasn't ever sure exactly what they did or how good quality or how expensive they were. I always kept away and stuck to those that I knew, i.e. McDonalds and KFC... so when I finally got inside one of these places I was pleasantly surprised. The first time I went was at a friend's birthday party and I had the same meal I have had every time I've been. I am a fussy eater so I stick to the spaghetti bolognaise which I love so much. The food itself, from what I can tell from my experience and friends' comments, is very nice and of very high quality. I do not make a habit of going to restaurants all around town as I'm only young and don't have the kind of money to do that but it is definitely high quality food and better than other places I've been. I have had no experience of food being uncooked or overcooked as I have in other places. Everything always arrives hot and ready to eat! Always useful. There is a good range of meals available at the restaurant for those who wish to spend a lot and those who don't. There is a range of normal sort of meals such as bolognaise and pizzas etc. with prices usually between £6-10 per meal. There is also a Specials section with more expensive and I assume more specialist foods with prices rising to aroun £13-15 per meal. There is a nice selection of traditional Italian meals as well as American classics. Starters and Desserts are available all at fairly reasonable prices and a lot of them are very nice. The service at the restaurant in my hometown of Rugby has nearly always been fantastic. For the first several times we went we had the same waitress who was very efficient and asked at convenient times and made sure everything was alright which was nice. Then the last time I went I think the waiter was new and it was a little less enjoyable but still not incredibly bad. They usually manage to seat you quite quickly unless you pick a busy day, for example Valentine's Day when I had to wait for around half an hour. The meals themselves do not usually take that long to come, usual waiting time of about 10 minutes which is always good. I never like waiting for ages for a meal when I'm hungry when I go into the place! Prices are not really too bad. Drinks of cola cost around £1.70 for a regular sized glass. The meals are around £10 each on average and sides such as garlic bread and other things are usually only a few pounds. On most nights out there for two people with a few drinks and sides it comes to about £30 which is very good in my opinion especially when you take into account the quality of the food. Other little things make the restaurant very enjoyable. Decorations are family orientated and attempt to show how the chain of restaurants is made by the family for the family. Quirky little novelties like having a 'learn Italian' CD playing while you're using the toilets make it a very interesting place to go. From my experience of the two Frankie & Bennies restaurants I have been to it is a safe bet for a good meal. I would highly recommend Frankie & Benny's to anyone.
The Samsung SGH-T100 was my first decent phone. Well it was my second after a Nokia 3210 which wasn't terrible but wasn't great at the same time. I have been told this was the first colour phone to be released onto the market but I am unsure how true that is but either way it tells its age. The phone by nowadays' standards is quite poor to be honest. It is lacking all the snazzy gadgets that phones now come with. No camera or video function, no mp3 player, no 'realtone' ringtones even. It is a flip phone and the outer screen displays the time so it is easy to see when shut. Although I have been talking negatively of it I still think this is a reasonably good phone. The design, for instance, is still the most attractive and comfortable i've had as a phone, especially for a flip as I don't usually like them. The phone is rounded all over so it is comfortable to hold in your hand. It is not tiny but fits perfectly in your palm. I even like the flip mechanism, no particular reason, it just works. Durability is another strong point for the phone. After years of ownership it has not had a single scratch. The shiny silver outer plastic shell is still all silver, rather than white in places where the paint has flaked off like on my other phone... On the front of the phone there is a nice multi-coloured flashing light that flashes every few seconds, just to remind you that it's there. On the left hand side there are arrow keys pointing up and down. These control the key volume when you're using the phone. I would recommend this was always set to zero as the noises do get annoying. On top of the phone there is a headphone hole covered by protective rubber cover and on the back is the easily removable, but safely held battery. The menu shows as follows: 1. My Services 2. Call Records 3. Messages 4. Voice functions 5. Tones 6. Settings 7. Organiser 8. Games 9. WWW services 1. My Services is basically contact details of you provider. On 02 i had a big list of different areas but now with my dad having it BT there is just one number for them so I guess it changes for different providers. 2. Call Records is how it sounds. Records of your outgoing, incoming and missed calls as well as the total call time you have used. 3. Messaging allows you to use the general features of a usual message box. Inbox, Outbox, Voicemail, Setup and Picture Messages. Nothing fancy but it is easy to use. Texting on the phone is a little annoying though as the space bar doesn't work as a space bar on first time of hitting it if you have only just typed the letter before it. You either have to wait for it to settle, or just press it twice which is easier, but hard to get used to. 4. Voice functions is things like memos so you can use it like a dictophone. Also voice dial is available if you can be bothered to set it up. It is a lot of hard work when you could just use your phone book, speaking of which, it is placed handily on the home screen so push one button and you've got it. 5. Tones gives you a variety of ringtones available with the phone along with a very useless melody composer. I tried for months and couldn't get it at all! 6. Settings lets you into the inner workings of your phone. Basic phone settings, security settings, language etc. Just like any other phone really. 7. In the organiser there is a scheduler, an alarm, a calculator, a to-do list, a calendar, world times and a clock. Useful things for day to day life. Can come in handy and newer phones sometimes miss these handy features. 8. The games! Well nothing to get excited about to be honest. They're enough to keep a thirteen year old happy for a few weeks but the do get tedious after a while. Fly through the air and blow things up with AirShooting. There is a version of that puzzle game where you cross one side of the square to the other and reveal a picture which is called Space Wars. The final game is called 'my pet'. Never appealed to me really. It is basically like a tamagotchi except you have a colourful cat rather than a blob of pixels. Feed it, play with it, get bored of it and torture the poor thing until it runs away. Repeat. 9. WWW services are obviously online services but at its most basic form in WAP. I can't really comment on it as i never used it but i expect it is like any other WAP device. On the whole I know this phone would have been good when it was first available but now it's just not good enough. You can get much better phones for the same price so don't bother. If you are not so able with the use of technology however you could always give it a go as it is fairly easy to use. Not bad but hardly recommended.
**No Spoilers** Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is the seventh and last installment of the Harry Potter series. The whole world has heard of this young and extraordinary magician growing up and this is the end of the line for him. The last book has always promised to be a good one from the start, readers knew where the story was going and that the build up in the other books was leading to one thing and it has finally come. To start with I am a massive fan of Harry Potter books so I don't know if my opinion counts as much as a critics but I'll have my say anyway. I lined up in the rain for this book at midnight of the 20th July waiting for only around half an hour into the morning of the 21st. As a child I was brought up only on this book. Every other story bored me, probably not good for my reading but that didn't bother me. Harry was always the same age as me, or near enough, so I could always relate and I loved he idea of magic and still do. The seventh book scared and excited me, it was the end... i didn't want it to end! Yet i had to read it before somebody told me the ending so I got started. I knew from the sixth book that this was going to be an emotional journey. I also knew that a lot of new things would be introduced: 'The Deathly Hallows' for instance... what's that all about?! Anyway, it started in a good way and got me hooked from the start. Even from within the first few chapters there is action and essential storyline points which has not really happened in the other books, it usually waits until the end, but this one was different. All the way through the book there were events to keep you reading and you wanted to know what happened next. The trio of friends set off on their own independent journey without the protection of adults and Harry, without Dumbledore's guidance, has to find out on his own how he can defeat Lord Voldemort. It is a very interesting read with parts that make you laugh and others to make you cry, J.K. Rowling rolled up all the best parts of the other books and put it into this one. There is very little to be improved from my point of view. A couple of minor complaints just to even it out though. The book is set out in a sort of: Action - Rest - Action - Rest - Action - Rest... kind of way so the 'rest's can get a little boring if you're reading for too long. Also the last chapter, I am not a great fan of. Sure it is a nice idea but either clarify fully or don't say it at all!! I won't go further for those who haven't read the book yet. I would like to see more Harry Potter related books in the future as J.K. has said she may possibly write an encyclopedia and anything like that would be great. I absolutely adore the book and it's still as good second time around. I would recommend this to anyone, any age, but especially Harry Potter fans.
I have read quite a few reviews about Garageband since I joined these review sites and though all of respectable quality and very informative, not many of them seemed to cover the point of view of bands within them. Quite predictably I suppose for a site like this they covered more of the reviewer side of it which I haven't really gotten to know very well. So to make sure this is factual and to give a detailed 'other side of the coin' point of view I'll just be talking from the bands point of view. I have got a band registered for the site though we are nothing serious and hang around the bottom of the comedy charts, I have still gotten to know quite a lot about the site and it has definitely proven to be one of the best sites of its type that is readily available. I stumbled across it while trying to find somewhere to host my mp3 uploads for use on my MySpace page. I registered and got sorted eventually and found that Garageband did not actually do this, though from what i had seen I'd found something much more interesting. Here are the general features of the site with details. |:|:| My Garage |:|:| This is the section that everybody, including those who are just there for reviewing, get as part of their package. It is your site homepage which gives a little outlook into the world of Garageband with a list of successful artists from the site and bands advertising and you can choose a genre to put on your front page and it gives you the top 5 and song of the week for that genre. From this part of the site there are quite a few features accessible to you. |:| Reviews |:| Well even for bands I suppose writing reviews is an important part of the site experience. There are three choices for bands as to what to be rewarded with for the reviews you write. Either you can write for fun, just write to get your rating up higher and get more well known amongst the community. You can write towards gaining you a contest entry. Contests are what they sound like, competitions. These are in all genres and sub-genres which can be entered by any band on the site. Entering a contest allows your song to be reviewed by fellow members and rated. The review ratings on your song help to put it into a chart which shows how you rank against the rest of the songs on the site. You cannot receive reviews or ratings without entering the contests. The last choice is that you can write to go towards 'Instant Karma'. This is a simple way of getting your songs rated and reviewed when you want them to. By writing an 'Instant Karma' review your song of choice is catapulted to the top of the list to be reviewed. There is obviously still a small wait but it should generally be quicker than if you don't do it. This choice of different rewards is useful as at different times you will want to get different things. I also think it is a brilliant way of keeping the site active. If a band wants to put a song into a contest without paying they need to write a lot of reviews so it makes sure that there is a continuous supply of reviews from band members. I am sure that most bands would choose to write the reviews than pay the money which is the only alternative. The review procedure is set out in pairs, you have two songs which you write about and then compare at the end which gives it more of an edge than just ratings. There is space for a lot of detail in the reviews but you can keep it short and sweet if needs be. It has taken me a shortest time of an hour's straight reviewing to get a song into the contest but that was hard work! It would normally be spread over a few days. |:| Playlists |:| For the keen listener of music and a fan of amateur, experimental or just different music this is a very useful feature. The site allows you to make playlists of the songs you like and you can make separate ones for different styles or moods so you can listen to what suits how you feel. Your playlists are public and people including the bands in your lists can see what you have in your list. This is bad for those 80s pop fans who pretend to be metalheads but in general it is another good way of getting more bands more widely recognised and spread throughout the site. |:| Public profile |:| Now this is one for the friendlier people amongst you who like to get to know the other members of the site and tell them a bit about yourself. There are sections for where you're from, who you are, your stats, your favourite bands, your website, your photo and a short biography to say everything that doesn't have its own section. As I said this is useful to get to know the people on the site a little better and to know a bit more about the people behind the music but I've never been bothered to fill it in. You can also fill it all in and only choose parts to be viewed publicly which is helpful if you get part of the way through filling it in. |:| Messages |:| The main method of communication around the site would have to be via the personal messages. The two ways I have come across are messaging and reviewing. This is the less formal method which also allows you to talk about things other than the song you just listened to. There isn't much to say about this feature really. It works a lot like any other messaging service really, nothing special but not a problem. Mine always remains depressingly empty except for the occasional thanks for a review. There is an inbox which keeps a record of all messages sent to you and there is an option at the bottom of every message whether you want to send a copy to yourself. I have found the messages a good source of information for added feedback about music if you want to bug people and get a bit more out of them. Evil me... |:| Buying CDs |:| This is for the consumers really, many bands on the site are selling CDs online via the website so you can have a browse through the bands and if you find anybody you really like then you can buy the album if it is available. This may seem pointless when you can listen to it online but if they have made downloads unavailable you may want to buy the CD anyway, nice for the band too. |:|:| My Band |:|:| This is obviously only for those who register a band for use on the site. Registering a band is quick and simple and most importantly: free! You just click on the 'Register a Band' button on the right in 'your garage' and enter a few details about the band and its main genres. From here the opportunities for bands just expand so I'll go through some of the sites features in a bit of detail. |:| Band Info |:| This section is split into two sections; one section is the general information about the band and the other section is what will be shown on your public band profile. Section one contains room for a picture, your current band website URL, your location and the URL you wish to have on Garageband. This really is just the basic stuff that is not really used for that much. The second section is where you get to present yourself to the prying eyes of te other users in a manner you find respectable. You choose the dominant genre of your band's music and the style. You can choose the colour scheme for your site and choose whether to be notified about song reviews. You then have sections for bands you sound like and who influenced you, these I think are used for tagging purposes. Lastly is 'What's the story behind your band?' which is a place to ramble a bit and tell everyone everything you want them to know. |:| Upload songs |:| What's the point in a band site without the uploads? Well you have the opportunity to upload as many songs as you want onto the site. The site acts as a form of host for our songs though not what I was originally looking for. The site produces a web page with a media player which plays the song of choice. This means you can paste links to your songs all over the place and get yourself heard which is always great. Just uploading a song onto the site has basically no effect on your community skills as nobody gets told you have uploaded anything. The only time people will find you is if you are in a contest or if they fortunately stumble across your profile while browsing but that is not a common thing. Uploading allows you to write several details about the song including its particular genre and 'sound-a-likes' also a picture can be uploaded for each song and a little bit can be written about the song as well. It doesn't take too long to upload anything on my 2.2MB broadband connection but it isn't exactly fast. Some slower connections may not stand a chance. I do remember trying to upload something and it getting nowhere on somebody else's computer so beware of that problem. |:| Contests |:| A little bit more about the contests... To enter a song into the contest you have to either complete 15 pairs of reviews (30 reviews) or you can pay $19.99 to the site. The obvious choice for me as I barely ever spend money online was the reviews. The other way of getting a contest entry is paying a sum of around $45 to become a Gold Member and get a free contest entry. The contests allow your songs to get reviewed and rated. You can see everything your reviewer wrote in the mains section but some remain unavailable, unless you become a Gold Member. Each reviewer must give you a rating out of five stars which shows how good your song is. After 10 reviews on your song the star rating appears next to it. Entry into a contest guarantees you at least 20 reviews but from my experience you get a lot more as all mine have had more than that and only one has been withdrawn from the contest as yet. It is certainly worthwhile entering as there are many great musicians out there to help you on your way. There are some stupid ones who write rubbish but just ignore them... Your star rating along with your comparison ratings help you to climb the chart of you specified genre until you hit you peak and slowly decline as more songs are added. Well that's how it works for me! The best songs can stay at the top for the whole contest over several months sometimes. |:| Sell CDs |:| Obviously if there are opportunities to buy CDs there are opportunities for bands to sell CDs. This leisurely attempt at earning yourself some money comes at a small cost and a little bit of effort filling in the form to join with Garageband's partner CdBaby.com who help to produce the CDs. You have to send off a few CDs to them which you will not have returned so it takes a while but I'm sure it would be worth it. I haven't done this so I'm unsure about specific prices and information but in general it just allows your CDs to be bought from your Garageband profile. |:| Additional Features |:| There is also the chance to put up a list of your upcoming gigs so your fans can follow you around if they wish. There is also a 'fans' section for those members who like your music so much that they consider themselves a fan and added you. This doesn't serve a great purpose but completes the band experience to keep them competitive against other sites. |:|:| Conclusion |:|:| Overall I think that this site is a fantastic way for up and coming bands to get known across the wide music world and to get useful tips about how to improve and move forward with their music. It also allows more established yet still unsigned bands to have a competitive battle against other musicians and try to reach the top of the charts. I think the way the site works is impeccable. The way that they have made reviewing a necessity for the bands that are unwilling to pay is very clever and keeps the site working and very active. The site is quite often down for updating with it occurring every few weeks to my knowledge. This doesn't usually last too long so not that much to worry about, just a bit annoying when you've just entered a song. A very good site which I would highly recommend to little bands.
Note: Review for DVD + CD version of the album. |:|The Band|:| The Used originated from a four piece band from Utah that began in 1999 called Dumb Luck, the band started up with some of its current members but not all. Soon after this though the current lead singer joined the band and the changed their name to 'Used'. After making a few songs amongst themselves they sent some music to the Goldfinger frontman and he liked what he heard. They were called in for a demo and the rest, they say, is history. They went on to produce a self titled album which was a reasonable success but more on the underground and yet to hit the mainstream. The band's next album 'In Love and Death' was part of the uprising of the 'emo' genre. The album became immensely popular among the 'emo' scene and they gathered a following of fans who loved them. The current band line up is: Bert McCracken - Vocals; Quinn Allman - Guitar; Jeph Howard - Bass; Dan Whitesides - Drums. The current is not the same drummer who lead the band to the top with 'In Love and Death' as Branden Steinerkert was kicked out of the band over last summer and is now playing for punk stars Rancid. The drummer on this album however is different again. While being stuck to find a permanent replacement they used the drummer from Good Charlotte, Dean Buttersworth, to fill in and record the album with them. So this album, Lies for the Liars is their latest studio album which is hoping to push them back up into the limelight and with a few festival appearences over the summer they're sure to be back on top in no time. |:|The Album|:| The new album has been highly anticipated by many people as they haven't produced any music in a few years. I really like the band so on hearing their new song I have been looking out for the album everywhere. Obviously I didn't look hard enough because it came out May 22nd and I didn't get it until a week later... I was unable to find the album and could only find this DVD & CD version of the album which cost a whole lot more than a normal album would. Nonetheless I was expecting my money's worth. The album comes loaded with eleven brand new songs and a short hidden track too. |:|The Cover|:| The artwork in The Used's albums has always been good and this one had to try not to disappoint. The outer cover of the DVD is great as it shows a sketch drawing of the new character they have created for this album: Chadam sitting in a chair in the centre of the cover. Chadam is a normal person from the neck down, then a giant rectangular head with giant eyes and mouth cetainly make him stand out. Reminds me somewhat of a hammerhead shark, in human form. Well, maybe not... The sketch is on a coffee colour tinted background to attempt that aged look. 'The Used' and 'Lies for the Liars' is scrawled at the bottom. The back of the cover has another logo they have created, a hand with what I assume is a droplet of blood coming from the wrist. Also it says the name of all the songs. Inside comes a twenty four page lyrics booklet which is interesting and arty as well. There are loads of great photos in it with Chadam and many other creepy looking creatures feature heavily with less of the sketches that were the feature of the last album's artwork. |:|Tracklist|:| 1. The Ripper 2. Pretty Handsome Awkward 3. The Bird and the Worm 4. Earthquake 5. Hospital 6. Paralyzed 7. With Me Tonight 8. Wake The Dead 9. Find A Way 10. Liar Liar (Burn In Hell) 11. Smother Me 1. The Ripper Quick build up with palm muted guitars and then straight in with the heavy guitars and drums. The chorus is very catchy despite it not seeming it at first listen. A very rocky kind of introduction to the album to get you in the mood for the rest of the album. I think I prefer the heavier parts to the slower bits of the song but still like it as a whole. 2:56 8/10 2. Pretty Handsome Awkward Brilliant guitar riff in this song that goes on through a lot of the song and goes along with a great catchy drum beat. This song looks set to be one of the released songs from this album according to stuff I've heard online. The vocals in this, and the rest of the album, are very good. Bert has taken his style and improved it and made it even better to listen to. 3:32 7/10 3. The Bird and the Worm This is the first song that was released from this album and the first song I heard from it. Just this one song got me very excited about the rest of the album. Very glad that they were not turning away from their old style as many of my other favourite bands have, I thought the new song was something different though keeping with their genre. This song makes use of a wider variety of stringed instruments like violins and cellos. Effectively used and makes this a really great song. Goes slow in parts which is not usually to my taste but it adds effect. 3:46 9/10 4. Earthquake This song sounds a little like the epic style that has been adopted by Funeral for a Friend. Just has a feeling about it that makes it feel big, again using a variety of instruments with cellos and violins more recogniseable in this song. I really like this style of song, it has taken what some of their previous album's slow songs had and made it more clean sounding and in my opinion better. 3:29 8/10 5. Hospital This song is another heavy one but with a really catchy rhythm, this is the song containing the album name in the lyrics. 'Take off my mask and leave the lies to the liars'. This has a catchy and upbeat rhythm that they have taken as their own and made into an interesting track. Maybe a little like some other songs on the album but sufficiently entertaining for me to enjoy. 2:57 7/10 6. Paralyzed I've called other songs catchy, but they're nothing compared to this. The combination of the rhythm of the guitar and the drum beat make the chorus of this song extremely catchy and really great to listen to. Thinking about it, the verses aren't quite as good but this is still probably my favourite song and the song as a whole is as perfect as I could hope for. Perhaps not very sympathetic or kind lyrics in the chorus 'paralyzed by the same old antics, back and forth like a walking spastic.' but sung in such a way I think it's wonderful. 3:13 10/10 7. With Me Tonight This one to me sounds a litle more like the old album in both the style of song and vocals. While not sounding like any song in particular and perhaps not fitting in with the last album it just has that certain something about it that reminds me of it. This one may be one of those blend into the rest kind of songs but it is still listen-to-able in my eyes. Still not just a typical rock song, just a typical Used song. 3:06 6/10 8. Wake The Dead Being the longest track on the album this had to kep up the quality. The song reminds me quite a lot of My Chemical Romance, a bit of a mix of their new and old stuff, and I could perhaps imagine them. I think the chorus is really good, as is typical The Used style with slower verses. This also has a really interesting break down bit in the middle with the reintroduction of traditional instruments and a female backing vocalist, Monique Powell. One of my favourites, though I do have a few! 4:14 9/10 9. Find A Way This one again reminds me of the last album, insuring it still is the same band! It is one of the slower songs on the album, I think it is produced and composed fantastically. Very lovey lyrics in the chorus with the actual word love being used many, many times. Almost manages to be a cute song but I don't think Bert's voice quite manages that but I prefer that really. It's a nice relaxing song. 3:23 8/10 10. Liar Liar (Burn In Hell) Right, this is the second song that I heard from this album so I have had more time to over listen to this and have it slightly lose it's novelty but not quite. This song is amazing! I think this is set to be their second release from the album, chorus lyrics of 'Liar, liar, pants on fire!' had my attention from the first time of listening. One of the heaviest songs which manages to keep an upbeat tempo throughout the whole song. Would probably have been my favourite on first listen to them all and maybe still is... 2:57 10/10 11. Smother Me The final song is a slow one which is based around a little piano ditty. The song makes you have a nice feeling, can't explain it really and it is probably just me but it has a really relaxing feel to it. I could almost imagine it as a pop song but I think it is a great way to end the album. First time I listened I wasn't sure but now listening closely I do quite like this one. Very much like their old music again. Adds a bit more variety to the album rather than just upbeat tracks. 4:12 8/10 12. Queso (Hidden Track) This isn't really that much of a song at less than a minute it sounds like they just added it to the album for a bit of fun. With what sounds like 'Caso Deeya' is just repeated to a bit of background noise. Not sure of the real spelling (Queso Dija prehaps?). I thought I'd mention it so nobody misses out on this little bit of an extra. 0:41 4/10 |:|The DVD|:| So the extra DVD that I spent at least five pounds on, depending on the price of the album. I wasn't sure what to expect, the case just said that it features the making of the album so I thought that was a bit silly as it didn't sound like much, but I watched it to check... The video clips give a quite nice little insight to the untraditional making of the album. It shows little bits of each song being recorded and worked on. It shows how they sung the vocals for some of their songs, including 'The Bird and the Worm', on a beach rather than in a studio which is definitely a different way of doing it. There is also a small section about the characters that appear in this album, Chadam and his friends... They have masks for all of the characters to allow them to be realistic and have proper pictures taken rather than drawings. There is a little bit of detail as to how it is all done but it all gets a bit rushed with not a lot of extensive detail into anything being shown. The DVD only lasts less than twenty minutes, which I think for the extra price is a bit of a rip off. I don't think that anybody really needs it, it doesn't contain amazing extra information that die hard fans couldn't be without. It doesn't contain a lot really. It's a bit of a disappointment really in comparison to the music on the album. I would probably say it was worth it anyway but I wouldn't have minded a decent length DVD. If I find I've missed something I'll have to change this review but for now I'm not happy with the DVD. |:|Details|:| CD: 9/10 DVD: 3/10 Warning: Parental Guidance Label: Reprise Produced & Recorded by John Feldmann Mixed by Chris-Lord-Alge Design & Photography by Alex Pardee |:|Price|:| £17.00 in Fopp.
Note: Review for film only. |:|The Film|:| Nanny McPhee was written by the leading lady, Emma Thompson, who is an established actress with a small script writing past. She adapted this from the Christianna Brand books about the character Nurse Matilda. Nanny McPhee was released back on January 27th 2005 with a well recogniseable cast with Emma Thompson, Colin Firth and others. The magical edge to the film was intruiging and the film was a pretty big success. It has been revealed since that this is going to be the lead up to another two films. The screenplay was directed by Kirk Jones. |:|The Plot|:| The film starts by showing what little mischieves the children in this film can be. The children who star in this are Tora, Simon, Lily, Eric, Christianna, Sebastian, and Aggie who are all brothers and sisters, children of widower Mr. Brown. The children manage to scare away 'the strictist nanny in town' on her way by telling her they had eaten the baby, she followed the sixteen nannies that Mr. Brown had tried to hire before then and the agency began to become wary of looking after his children. With him almost giving up as he cannot look after them and work at the same time. But his prayers are answered with Nanny McPhee. Some strange signs and constant messages saying 'the one you seek is Nanny McPhee' and on a particularly troublesome night when the kids have broken into the kitchen and are causing havoc, there is a knock on the door. Waiting there is the magical character of Nanny McPhee, warts and all, wanting to go inside and sort out the little ne'er-do-wells. After a magical turn of events where the nanny makes them do things tey cannot control, she gets her way. After the ruccous about it has died down and the children are asleep Nanny McPhee vows she will keep the children in line at all costs but she has Sundays off... The rest of the film is a combination of small events taken generally day by day over time as Nanny McPhee aims to teach the little tykes her lessons. As her lessons are learned slowly over time, her complexion seems to become less warty. Nanny McPhee's lessons are: To go to bed when they are told To get up when they are told To get dressed when they are told To listen to what they are told To do exactly as they are told The film shows the gradual change in the children's behaviour after being forced to do things to begin with but being changed inside too by the end. They almost lose one of their number to their Aunt Adelaide who is trying to help their father with his financial issues. She has said he must marry before the month is over or she will stop giving him her money. She wants to take one of his children to try and ease the probalem of having to spend money on them. After a struggle the team of children manage to pull through together but with the loss of the servant Evangeline who has to go with Adelaide. The story comes to a conclusion at the wedding ceremony for Mr. Brown and Mrs. Quickly who are se to marry but the children, who have found that Mrs. Quickly is everything they've ever feared in a stepmother, have other ideas... |:|Cast|:| Nanny McPhee - Emma Thompson Cedric Brown - Colin Firth Evangeline - Kelly Macdonald Great Aunt Adelaide - Angela Lansbury Mrs. Quickly - Celia Imrie Simon - Thomas Sangster Tora - Eliza Bennett Lily - Jennifer Rae Daykin Eric - Raphael Coleman Sebastian - Sam Honywood Christianna "Chrissy" - Holly Gibbs Agatha "Aggie" - Hebe Barnes and Zinnia Barnes Mrs. Blatherwick - Imelda Staunton Mr. Jowls - Patrick Barlow Mr. Wheen - Derek Jacobi Lead and Scriptwriter Emma Thompson is an accomplished actress with many great blockbusters under her belt both before and after this movie. She appeared in Love Actually as Karen, Prime Minister's sister. This is presumably where she met the likes of Colin Firth and Thomas Sangster who play Mr. Brown and Simon Brown in this film. Emma does her role justice and plays the rather quirky character brilliantly and to great effect. Since this film her most noticeable role is Professor Trelawny in the Harry Potter films. Colin Firth is another well known name to be appearing in the film. His extensive career starts back in 1984 but has been in many great films since then such as Fever Pitch, Bridget Jones's Diary and What a Girl Wants. He plays the role of the stressed father of eight remarkably well, with not so much as a noticeable hiccough. Kelly MacDonald is a less well known name but still with a pretty long history in the film business. Her career started with a bang making the role of Diane in Trainspotting. From there she went forward and has since appeared in films such as Finding Neverland, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and The Girl in the Cafe. Her role as the unloved scullery maid is played very well and her love of her master, Mr. Brown is performed well. Aunt Adelaide is played by Angela Lansbury, multi award winning actress who's career spans seven decades featuring in many great films such as The Manchurian Candidate, Bedknobs & Broomsticks and two Agatha Christie Films. During the 90s she played mainly voice roles and Nanny McPhee is one of her only non-voice movie roles in many years. She pulls off the role very well and she is a believable baddie for the kids to dislike. Thomas Sangster is a young actor remembered for his cute little face in Love Actually but that baby faced boy is now seventeen. Not quite so old at the time of tis film, about 14 perhaps, but he is a great actor for his age. I like him in all that I've seen him in. He plays the feisty rebellious child Simon very well. |:|My Opinion|:| The film has many different points that I would like to make about it. The storyline itself is a very good one I think. Most children's stories are a little too simple really and even though they're only for kids they'll still want something to concentrate on. This is better as it has many little parts to the story, they are simple adventures but there are lots of them and every new day seems to bring a new lesson. I also like the bluntness of the film in places; at the start when Nanny McPhee arrives there is no mystique and suspicions about her being magical and being a witch which gets dragged out she just simply lets it out into the open pretty much straight away which I liked. Also at the end when Nanny McPhee leaves there are no dragged out goodbyes she just leaves the family to be happy. As this is a child's movie you can imagine that there is a traditional happy ending with the bad guys, or girls in this case, screaming and running away but living to fight another day. The magical element to the film adds a little something to it which will interest a child. A movie about some mischievous kids might entertain a child but with an addition of a magical Nanny, it definitely will! I'd say it isn't really for children over the age of ten but some over that may enjoy it. I enjoyed the film and I am obviously older than ten but it was just something to make me relax before exams the next day. Nice movie that will have the children wanting a magical nanny. Just hope they don't try and be terrors to try and make her turn up! |:|Price|:| £3.48 at Amazon.co.uk
So, Diet Coke with Cherry. The quite recently updated diet version of 'Coca-Cola with Cherry' a.k.a. Cherry Coke! Cherry Coke is obviously a cherry tinted cola drink which has been produced for many years by the Coca-Cola comapny and is certainly one of my childhood favourites, and it still is one of my favourites in fact. The problem with Cherry Coke is the incredible amount of sugar in each bottle. Each 750ml bottle of normal Cherry Coke contains a whopping 58% of your daily sugars. So two bottles and your already over! There has always been a lot of worries about the Coca-Cola drinks and what it's going to do to your teeth and other parts of your body too so people are always health conscious when it comes to drinking cola. A diet version of this product to go along with the new health conscious society was long over due. It's arrival recently got me a bit curious and I thought I should try it out. I think the first time I had any was a few months ago when Woolworths had ran out of normal Cherry Coke so I thought I might as well give it a whirl! I have to admit I wasn't expecting much from a Coca-Cola brand equipped with the dreaded 'diet' logo attached as I am definitely not a fan of Diet Coke. I think the same can be said in my opinion for most diet drinks: they always leave a horrible after taste! Some diet drinks taste horrible and then the after taste sticks in your throat for hours just refusing to go and leaving you filling yourself with something else to take the taste away. Some diet drinks I find quite tasty upon first gulp but then that aftertaste effect kicks in and it all goes wrong! So what to expect from Diet Coca-Cola with Cherry I did not know. The packaging is quite nice, I am not generally a fan of the white bottles that most diet drink products are usually sold in. It's as if it is a warning that the product inside is as dull as the packaging. Diet Cherry Coke has taken the white packaging and added a tint of purple/ red here and there and it looks quite pleasant really. I am a bit strange and get put off by horrible packaging. Diet Pepsi is the worst in my opinion, terrible! Diet Cherry Coke comes in the traditional Coca-Cola shaped bottle which is fine, and it comes sporting a white top with the logo for this brand printed on the top. So the taste, as I said I wasn't expecting much but I definitely didn't expect what I got from the taste. In y opinion this tastes absolutely nothing like the original Cherry Coke and they've gone for a whole new cherry taste altogether. I have never eaten a cherry so I couldn't tell you which is closer to the actual taste for sure but I would probably guess that the diet version is closer. It tastes a lot to me like the cherry sweets you sometimes get, which to me is a complete change from Cherry Coke. Although it has that cherry taste that is essential it also seems to have a slight dull side to it. Not sure how it works, maybe it's just the curse of the 'diet' drink but it tastes a little... 'dusty' for lack of a better word. I am impressed at the lacking aftertaste that I usually expect but I think this 'dusty' feeling is part of that, doesn't stick in the throat which is great. Although it has impressed me in the way that it was better than what I had expected from a drink like this, it is still not going to be one of my favourites to any extent. The taste is not to my preferences. It seems to have a very strong cherry flavouring and not much of the cola. This may seem to be an improvement in the eyes of many cola haters but it's not for me. The drink is a little average, I don't think I would say it was horrible but I cannot say it's nice either! But the whole point of this drink, in my eyes, is the healthy side to it so how effective has that been? Here's a few facts and figures about this drink and a few close substitutes: Diet Coke with Cherry: Energy: 4.0kJ /1 kcal, Protein: 0g Carbohydrate: 0g of which sugars: 0g Fat: 0g of which saturates: 0 g Fibre: trace Sodium: 0g |:| Cherry Coke Right so in comparison to Cherry Coke this is a major improvement for the health freaks! By the looks of the statistics it doesn't really have anything in it, which is favourable to some, others actually want their drinks to have something in them! In comparison on the nutritional figures, 100ml of the diet version contains 44 calories less than the original version and 11.2g of Carbohydrates, all of which are sugars! So you may be doing yourself a favour by choosing thhis over Cherry Coke, but then why not buy soemthing that tastes nice... like fruit juice? |:| Diet Coke: I thought this would be useful for those who prefer Diet Coke and are wondering what this has got in comparison. Surprisingly in my opinion the Cherry version is slightly, and I mean slightly, better for you. A whole 0.5 calories less per 100ml, hallelujah! Also, the Diet Coke with Cherry contains a trace of fibre and doesn't contain Diet Coke's trace of salt. All in all that would probably be a big improvement if it were more than just a trace both ways, in reality neither of them are really going to affect you. But it's nice to feel better all the same. All in all then this drinks has it's up... well yes just the one, and it's downs. It is not as terrible as I have heard it made out to be but then again I can see why people could possibly see it that way. Not a pleasant experience for people such as myself who don't like Diet Coke and it has a taste that is nothing at all similar to Cherry Coke. A healthy drink, yes, but I wouldn't see it as a diet version of Cherry Coke but more as it's own drink. Interestingly enough there is a Black Cherry Vanilla flavour of cola that is coming to the UK soon so it will be interesting to see what that tastes like. I thought for a moment that it may be the US version of this drink but I don't think it is. It fitted in my eyes: strange cherry flavour: Black Cherry, dull after taste: Vanilla! Diet Coke with Cherry is available everywhere now so don't worry about finding it if you still want to give it a try. I know for certain it is available in 750ml bottles and 2L bottles having purchased them both but I'm not sure about cans. I would assume it would be available but I do not know for sure. Prices are as normal for a soft drink these days at around 60p for a can and £1 for a 750ml bottle. The 2L bottles are better value for money as they are usually around £2 within a little bit either way.
Note: This is a review for the film and not the DVD. The Background This is the highly anticipated third film in the Pirates of the Caribbean series which has caused a lot of excitement. After the release of the first movie 'The Curse of the Black Pearl' everyone thought it was a great film but wasn't sure about it's future, nobody knew if there was going to be a sequel to it however much everyone wanted it. Then last year the sequel 'Dead Man's Chest' hit cinemas nationwide to swarms of adoring fans. But upon watching it there were many disappointed fans who were expecting a lot more. The second film had taken a more slapstick comedy and worked it into the film which wasn't exactly greeted very well by viewers or critics. But, despite the slight unpopularity of the second film, most people have decided that the next one is going to be much better and that was just a filler that they didn't put very much effort in to. So this works out great for the makers, everyone went to see the second one and even if they didn't like it they're going to watch the third anyway! Well everyone is going to go and watch Johnny Depp as Captain Jack in his newest adventure so we're just going to have to see if this one meets expectations... The Movie Right, just to fill in people who haven't seen the last movie... Basically it just set up the storyline for this film. Captain Jack Sparrow got his ship 'The Black Pearl' back and sailed the seven seas. Then he made an enemy in Davey Jones, sounds like a pleasant enough chap but you'll see the problem when you see him. In the film Davey Jones sets his sea beast the Cracken on Jack Sparrow and eventually the Cracken eats poor Jack and his beloved Black Pearl. But being a kids' movie so he can't be dead! So the crew of his ship including Will Turner and Elizabeth Swan decide to go after their captain and to do this they need to go to the end of the world but to add a little spice they are accompanied by the star 'baddie' of the last film: Captain Barbossa. Jack killed him in the climax of the first film so he is not exactly loyal to him. He makes an interesting and unpredictable character. And so the story begins! The Story The plot has most certainly thickened in this film from the last and with an exciting scheme and fighting scene to open the film, critics of the last film will see even from the beginning that this is going to be an improvement. The story is continued from the last film and all in all there is no surprises to be spoiled in the film. The villain of 'Dead Man's Chest' Davey Jones returns and has allied himself, unwillingly, to the East India Trading company who's power hungry leader, Commander Becket is looking to control the seven seas. The story is thick and full of twists and turns, you can't miss a moment without losing track of something. I would definitely recommend going to the toilet before the movie! The nature of the plot makes it less relaxed watching and more intense, thought provoking stuff. You need to remember who's where in the film and keep track of the new characters that have been introduced. Many people change where their loyalties lie at many different points. Elizabeth Swan's betrayal of Jack Sparrow in the last film causes much mistrust between the main characters. The character relationships in the film are one of the hardest things to remember what is going on with. Jack, Elizabeth and Will are all feeling untrusted and not as close as previous films. Captain Barbossa being thrown into the mix definitely spices things up. Elizabeth's love Will believes she loves Jack after the final scenes of the previous film so things are a bit rocky between them and it makes an entertaining watch. The film shows that their is more to pirates than you may have thought and however selfish they are they sometimes can rally together to fight for what they believe. This film shows that their is a lot more to all of the characters than we have been lead to believe. Elizabeth's role has become of increasing importance in all the films but this she takes the lead and makes a few good decisions that influence things greatly. A more dark sinister side to Will Turner is seen as he attempts to free his father from the 'Flying Dutchman' and shows he'll do anything to free him. An interesting and very entertaining insight into the working mind of Jack Sparrow is shown in a really ingeniusly positioned section in the middle of the film. This scene shows how the loneliness of being in Davey Jones' locker can affect a man like Jack. Comically produced, this is the result of high quality directing. It includes Jack and his ship the Black Pearl alone in the endless deserts of nothingness and him bossing around a crew of many Jack Sparrows that makes for a humourous few minutes of film. A credit to the actor as he spends around twenty minutes at least as the only person on screen. The Acting The acting quality in the movie is outstanding. I have not thought the best of Orlando Bloom or Keira Knightley in previous films but they certainly stood out in their new more indepth roles as their characters Elizabeth Swan and William Turner. Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow continues to please and the character of Jack remains entertaining and spontanious to watch. Very enjoyable viewing. Geoffrey Rush as Captain Barbossa is as magnificent as he was in the first film. Taking his side with the 'goodies' this time but still he will go to any means to get his own way. The other acting talent is still fantastic and it is nice to see familiar faces still on board with the film. Special Effects Special effects on both the fighting and ship battle scenes in this film are still of incredible quality and not overly used. It must be a burden trying not to over exploit top quality effects but the film contains just the right amount to keep the story and viewing experience enjoyable and believable which is of course of great importance. Stunning visuals of the 'Black Pearl' soaring over the edge of the gigantic waterfall at the end of the world, lovely to watch and still an exciting story line to keep it going. Comedy I am very glad to say that the slapstick routine from the last film has been scrapped and the original humour we had in the first film has returned. Occasional jokes and comical moments are provided quite often by the quirky antics of captain Jack but other characters such as the crewmates also give their fair share of laughs. This time they have added just the right amount of laughs to keep you entertained but they are fitted in so that the storyline remains as serious as is neccessary. Great directing skills mean that all parts are played brilliantly and that the comedy is well positioned and not over exaggerated. My Opinion At 160 minutes the quality has to be good to keep you watching and interested the whole time and I certainly found it the kind of thing that you want to keep watching to find out the end to. It keeps you on the edge of your seat as you want to know the results of constant side switching and back stabbing that occurs and reoccurs in the film. The storyline was, while simple on the whole, filled with great little changes that kept me interested. I feel that it was a great improvement on the second film and will probably be seen as better than the first. A mention for the quality again of the music in these films. As was expected the original theme is kept but with newer music to suit the mood of the more intense and serious storyline of this film. Although I enjoyed the music as a whole, one scene had completed different music to the rest and it confused me a little. A whining electric guitar broke the tension before a battle scene instead of building it up. Gave me a bit of a headache but back to the tried and tested after a short while so no major complaints The film started with a bit of action to get you into the mood. I thought that it was good, a bit of action to get things going. As well as this it contained a bit of a surprise attack that made it unpredictable. You see more of pirate loyalty which I found interesting to watch. I very much enjoyed all the characters and think they all played their roles wonderfully, everyone finds their place in the world in this film and makes entertaining viewing to see the characters making their own ways in the world becoming less reliant on each other. As it should be, the film ends on a cheeky note from Jack to provide you with that happy mood as the credits run. The movie is ended in the way that their could well be a fourth in the series if they decided to do so but it could also be left as it is for people to decide for themselves what fate the characters should have. Conclusion A fantastic film which was is well deserved and high calipre enough to be called a Pirates of the Caribbean film. Those who were disappointed by the last film are sure to reignite their belief in the films with this one. Reverting back to the style of the first film, Gore Verbinski has definitely succeeded in making a high quality film which stands a pretty good chance of becoming your new favourite Pirates film. If you enjoyed the comedy in the last film more than the first you may be a little disappointed but you should agree that the more serious storyline called for less silly comedy and that has been done. Details Director: Gore Verbinski Rating: 12a Running Time: 160 minutes approx. Genre: Action & Adventure Price Well, the same price as a cinema ticket at your local cinema!
Now I am not a chewing gum sort of guy. Ever since I was little I just thought that it was horrible and not pleasant at all. I remember trying different types at various points throughout my childhood and the taste to me was a bit dull. The problem was I just couldn't find it in me to chew gum which tasted like very mild mint mixed with plastic when there were perfectly good packets of Polos out there. So I am not amongst chewing gum's biggest fans. Also I don't like it when the sticky stuff is left lying around to stick by innocent bystanders who are not expecting it. I have had chewing gum stuck to my feet before and it's not nice, also I've had it attached to the back pocket of my jeans as I was leaving a bus once without realising and it was still attached to the seat where I was sitting! Everyone laughed, except one guy who looked sympathetic but hey, I left in a strop anyway. So why have I decided to go against that which I believe in and take a chew of Wrigley's Extra Ice? Well I'm not sure really, I thought that it may well be time in my life to try a bit of chewing gum again. Apparently it can help you lose weight as it makes your brain think you're eating when in fact you're not. I will never argue with something that could make me stop eating as much! So I saw this on here and thought 'Why the heck not!' and decided to myself last night that I was going to go down to the local garage down the road and when I go and as well as the milk I desperately need I'll get myself some of this. Low and behold here I am, back from a pleasant walk at ten o'clock in the morning, finished my milk covered cereal and chewing a brand new packet of chewing gum. I have recognised Wrigley's Extra as a leading brand in the chewing gum industry for a while now with big advertisements and adverts with 'Mmmbop' by Hanson as the backing music, who could ignore them?! Claiming in that advert that chewing their gum will get you closer to other people. Not quite sure how the technicalities of that work out but nonetheless they have been successful. I see friends with packs of Wrigley's Extra chewing gum all the time, they offer me a piece and I politely say 'no, thank you' every time. So the quality of the product is bound to be good or people wouldn't buy it and they wouldn't have the money to advertise, so what's all the fuss about? I can only wonder... So moving onto the Extra Ice brand, as I have said popped out and got them fresh this morning. The product was easy enough to find, set apart from the chocolate and sweets in the traditional chewing gum section it was not hard to spot amongst the other Extra brands with the large blue 'ICE' standing out enough for me to read it. While I'm still talking about the shop, I should talk about prices. I am unsure as to how much chewing gum usually costs as I have never bought it before but at a petrol station you can hardly expect great prices so I'm sure you'll be able to pick it up for less than the 39p I had to spend on a pack of ten pieces. The packaging then, is much what you'd expect from this product with the name that it has. Extra Ice has a outer packet of blues and whites. The Extra logo has shadows of light blue and the 'ICE' is set apart from the rest in a darker blue set over the images of what look like ice mountains in the background. As an A Level student of technology with a GCSE in graphics I should probably be able to say more than that about the design of the packaging but alas, I can't. A conscience clearing 'Sugarfee Gum' appears in the corner which helps me to not worry about what it is doing to my teeth and lets me enjoy the experience. On the back of the packaging comes all the details as to the manufacturer etc. and what's actually in the gum. If anything could scare me away now I'm sure it could be this! Well with nothing to worry me in the ingredients list, though that may be due to lack of knowledge and understanding of the ingredients, I move hastily onto the nutrition section... Nutrition Information per 100g Energy: 615 kJ/ 147 kcal Protein: 0g Carbohydrates: 61g (of which sugars): 0g (of which polyols): 61g (of which starch): 0g Fat: 0g (of which saturates): 0g Fibre: 0g Sodium: 0g This information neither put me off or made me any fonder of the product. With no fats and no sugars it seemed like it wasn't going to do much harm to my figure... and it should leave the rest of me in tact too. Whereas the lack of protein, fibre and sodium left me also wondering how there was anything there! There is a 'suitable for vegetarians' label printed in the small text at the bottom of the packet so animal lovers can breathe freely. Also a due warning not to use excessively or you may be using the loo a little more often than you usually see as normal! So now I know what it's going to do to me it's time to actually get inside. Moving inwards, taking one step closer to the pieces of gum I am dreading, is easy enough. A little flap appearing at the side of the packet on the back makes easy work of the outer paper packaging as it removes a helpful amount from the end of the packet and leaves you with what I assume to be typical for all types of chewing gum, a shiny foily inner layer. Opening the final barrier allows you to get a look in on the gum itself. Deciding that I'd take as much time over getting in my mouth as possible I took a sniff. I had to admit that I was pleasantly surprised as it didn't have a stale smell that would have matched that taste I remember from years ago. The smell could have arisen from any of my favourite mint packets, perhaps at a further distance but still the smell was good and I was intruiged. Taking one of the pieces out I took a closer sniff to see if it was still as good and with no further arguments I put it hesitantly into my mouth. The pieces are a pale blue colour most likely for aesthetic reasons than anything else, inside is white covered with the thin blue shell. They are of useful size and easy to put into the mouth. Much more pleasant that the strips of gum which I've tried before. Just the look of them always managed to put me off before I'd started but that's just me being behind the times. I put the gum in my mouth and typical sweet sucking, strong mint eating me just sucked on it for a while. Quite disappointed at the lack of taste the fact that it was 'chewing' gum might be a bit of a hint as what to do! So I chewed it up slowly and the outer shell crumbled into the centre, there was a bit of a mild taste for a few seconds until the flavour really kicked in. Very strong mint flavouring filled my mouth and with a cooling of my mouth that I was foolish to not expect from a brand called Extra Ice, I was shocked at the flavour that this chewing gum had. There is a really strong burst of mint taste before resorting back to a reasonable level of mintiness, there is a pretty strong taste in the mouth for about five minutes at least afterwards and I'm sure a hardcore gum chewer would have squeezed every bit of flavouring out of it by now but I, being a gum virgin, am still finding spots of flavour some fourty minutes later. Most of the flavour is gone but I am enjoying just chewing the flavourless gum so I shall keep on chewing. I have to say I am most impressed, not only does each single piece can last over an hour in my mouth, it actually has a flavour which I found rather pleasant and quite refreshing at this time of the morning. I am looking forward to a second piece without the hesitancy of the first and I can enjoy it, I quite hope that I don't get too fond of this and get addicted to it as I do quite quickly with other sweets but it is definitely a nice experience. The effect on my normally disgusting morning breath is noticeable even to me so it is definitely an improvement. I cannot adives you on whether it can remove cigarette breath as that's something I'm not willing to try in the name os a review. It fill my mouth with a fresh minty taste and keeps me full up when I would otherwise be craving my second breakfast by now... Unfortunately I am still a little put off when I actually take the gum out of my mouth but it may be something I have to put up with if I want any more! After disposing of it sensibley, the journey of the first piece has come to an end... I am happy to say that with my first taste of the Extra brand I am surprised. And now I say... onto the second piece! |:| Details |:| The Wrigley Company Ltd. Plymouth Devon PL6 7PR £0.39 for 10 pieces.
Family. There are many different interpretations of the word family. The ones you live with may be what you see as your family. These people are the people who you see all the time and have to put up with and without drastic action, you can't get rid of! Those who you live with are likely to be the ones who affect your perception of the way things work in the world and your opinions and your outlook on life is bound to be influenced in a way by those people. For most children that will be your mum and dad and any other siblings that you may have. These are the people you are attached to and can't get away from and the people you can always fall back on when you're in need because they can't get rid of you! Another way you may see the word family is your related family. Everyone who is related to you is your family, which in the definitive sense is true but it is unlikely that you will be close to all of your family. If you have a large family there will be some cousins you see more than others and some aunts and uncles you like more than others. The family unit as a whole usually care for one and other and get togethers can be enjoyable as you're around people of the same blood as you so they're bound to share something in common. You never have to be worried about looking silly in front of family because it's your family! The other way of looking at it is that those you hold dearest to you are your family. Those who are the people to you that define what you've been told a family is. If you think a family should be people who look after you through everything and you have parents who have neglected you and you are not loved by your blood relatives, you may see your friends who are there for you to be your family. If they are the ones that keep you strong in times of need and love you when nobody else does then you will see them as more of a family than your relations. I am part of a three person household: Mum, Dad and me. Pretty simple really, mum and dad get along and still love each other. They're my parents and we get along fine, I can talk to them casually and not worry about it. I like being part of my family. I have lived this way since I was born. I have a half-sister from my dad's side who I used to see regularly but grew up so see less of nowadays. I am part of a perfectly happy family unit but the way I see the rest of my family is a bit strange and baffles me slightly. I don't enjoy being around cousins and uncles and aunts and other relations. I just don't. I don't know why really I just really feel like I don't want to be there. I would much rather be around my friends who I can talk to properly and have fun with rather than around family. I just feel as if I am forced with them, like a friend of a friend that you have to be nice to just to make your friend happy. I never feel close to any of my family other than my parents and perhaps my half-sister. I feel like they are part of my family but the rest are just a few people that I have to see every now and again and I end up feeling embarrassed about something or even nothing whenever I see them. I don't know if that is anything to do with my upbringing but I don't know, I think it's just the way I am. Being an only child I have always been a little more independent than I suppose people with brothers and sisters are. Also I've never had to watch out for or look after a younger sibling, always just been me. I am a quiet person usually which I guess just comes from me really. Both of my parents are pretty outgoing, my dad especially and I don't know why I have never followed in their footsteps. Both of their families are pretty much the same. Mum's side are a bit loud and up for a good time and dad's side are a bunch of rowdy nutters! Great people to know but just not really my type of people to be close to. Being quiet I have always shied away from them all a little. All being more outgoing than me, I opted for the quieter life of solitude. After a long while I got myself a social life but still in general kept myself to myself and still push my family away rather than embrace them. I'm sure that the family you are in is a very big factor in how you become you when you're older. If you have a loving mum and dad and lots of brothers and sisters then you may be more of a family person as you'll have more social skills with more people to talk to. On the other hand you might be the one that gets picked on by the rest of your siblings so you become quieter and less socially active. I obviously have no experience of a single parent family so I couldn't say whether that would affect you or not. I would imagine living in a single parent household would be a very large change from a two parent household. There would only be one person that you could rely on to help you and love you. If you had fallen out with your mum, in a two parent household you might be able to bridge the gap through your dad if he was there but if he wasn't then you may not make up so quickly. On the other hand in a single parent household the parent would only have the kids, so they may give them more love and attention than if the parents were still together and happy. A single parent upbringing for me with no brothers or sisters would have caused a massive difference to my life. Same sex parents is a bit of a different matter. Without stereotyping too badly, a household of either two men or two women is bound to be different to and man and a women. Even if the two adults of the same sex are not partners, just one being a lodger this would be totally different way of living I would assume. I would have thought it would be hard for both parties if there was a boy living in a household of two women or a girl living in a household of two men, especially when it came to growing up and when puberty hit. Experience is always helpful when it comes to giving advice in that area and if the child had no grown up they were close to for advice they may find it hard. I think that growing up with same sex parents wouldn't affect you too much unless you were picked on for it. I think it would be pretty much the same as a heterosexual two parent relationship with ups and downs and things that can always go wrong. My view on family is a bit strange but that's me. I think when I come round to that time when I want a family of my own I will love them very much and be very protective, but for those that I've grown away from I am not a very good relation to have! The family unit is what you want it to be. There are certain aspects you can't change but you can choose to treat your family as you like and you will become who you do. There is no such thing as the perfect family, the closest thing you'll find is your own.
Right I love the Harry Potter books so I thought I would give myself the honour of reviewing them, because I know them back to front and I want a challenge of writing a book review and I'm not sure how. So I hope it's not too terrible. I was read this book by a teacher when I was ten. The whole class sitting around the teacher for story time we all couldn't wait for the time of the day when we found out what happened next. So much so that most people in the class went and bought it and storytime became pointless but entertaining nonetheless. Such a big success it was with the class that the second Harry Potter book replaced the previously planned next book for story time and we got read that one too! So I am quite an early fan who has been reading them growing up, always around about the same age as Harry in the books. I started a little younger and I've now caught up so I found them very enjoyable. Something to relate to in some cases and something to imagine yourself doing: just before you are all set for the scary world of going to secondary school, J.K. Rowling provides a branch of hope. 'I might be a wizard! I might not have to go to secondary school!' and these thoughts stay with you just about until you get there and the you just start thinking how great it would've been which is just as fun! I think that these books must have been most enjoyable for my generation because Harry grows up with you. The same age as you and with the style of the books you seem to get to know him and it's like a friend you can't see but you know is there. Strange feeling and it may just be me but anyway, the book. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is the first in the series of books and following series of films following the story of Mr. Harry James Potter. The book starts in a slightly confusing manner but you understand eventually. This book introduces you to the character of Harry Potter, the young orphan boy who has been dumped unwillingly upon his aunt and uncle who's son Dudley picks on him. He is unwanted and nobody has ever cared for him since he had been brought to the house. Eventually weird events happen as mysterious letters begin being sent to Harry with precise accuracy as to his position. Eventually a large man called Hagrid comes and visits him while his uncle is trying to get away from the letters and tells Harry that he is a wizard! I'm pretty sure I can tell almost anybody in the country that Harry Potter is a wizard without it being news to them! The story tells of Harry's past which becomes clearer as he goes through the book and he makes friends in the wizarding world even though he is famous without even knowing it. The young boy who was locked up at his uncle and aunt's house has had all his dreams come true as he has found a world full of people who know him and are willing to talk to him. He makes good friends at school and he learns the basics of life as a wizard and learns all the things a wizard should know from his friends Ron and Hermione. Ron is part of a large wizarding family with brothers at the school who all make Harry welcome and Hermione is a muggle-born know-it-all who becomes their friend half way through this book. Muggle is a non magic person. I'm sure that almost anybody that is reading this will know the story of Harry Potter and almost certainly this book so I should probably just stick to opinions. I think this book is absolutely fantastic! It is great to read for a first time as it provides a twisting tale which is lovely to read and an enjoyable plot to unravel before you. The story of the young boy who nobody loved suddenly becoming one of the most well known wizards around never fails to entertain me. If you're reading this again after reading the rest of the series then it is great to see the innocence and small worries of the younger Harry in comparison to the burdens he carries in the later books in the series. A lot lighter reading than the rest of the series and I think it is a great book to get kids into more adult styled books. Especially as the Harry Potter stories themselves become a lot darker and more mature as they progress. In this Harry and his friends notice something odd about the Potions master and decide that after a mysterious series of events, they have to do something about it or wizardkind could be doomed to suffer the return of Lord Voldemort. I'm sure he needs no introduction so I won't bother. They try their best to inform the headmaster of their suspicions but he is away from the school so they have to take things into their own hands. The most interesting part starts towards the end, as with most books, and you'll be entertained whatever your age! The story could have been told in a more dark way but the has been made child-friendly, much to the success of the series. At 223 pages the book provides a lengthy read for a child but nothing overly extensive. As an adult you should be whizzing through these books and getting to the thicker plots in no time. This book holds the basis for the rest of the series though and there are some things you may want to take note of as important for the rest of the series. This is a truly brilliant book which started the Potter craze and I think the story is deserved of the hype. I wouldn't suggest that this was quite adult reading as yet but I would say that the series does become more mature so if you want the full background start reading! |:| Price |:| £4.79 at Amazon.com
Drayton Manor Theme Park is set near Tamworth in Staffordshire which first opened it's gates all the way back in 1949. The theme park is home to many thrilling and unique rides as many of it's rides hold the title of 'Only... in the world/ Europe' which gives this theme park a bit of an edge over others. I visited Drayton Manor last year and it was my first trip to a theme park of any kind and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Unfortunately we didn't get around to going on any of the big rollercoasters due to insufficient time and long queues. I hope I can go back again some day and try them but until then I can describe them at least. If you are worried about how to get there, the official site gives you a link which gives details of how to get from your location to the park just look under the menu heading 'How to find us'. |:| Opening Times |:| Drayton Manor is open this year between 24th March and 28th October which is the traditional theme park season as we should have some of the better weather by the summer, I hope! The gates open to the park at 9:30am each morning in time for the rides to open at around 10:30am .The rides stay open until about 6pm when you'll have to leave. I'd advise getting there early to make the most of your day. You'll end up missing out on things like I did if you don't go until later. Then again, you may find the entrance less busy later on so take your pick. |:| Prices |:| Typical excessive prices are the cost for a fun day out but you should find that it is worth it. The age of an adult is somehow 12 plus which is a little outrageous but they can get away with it so they do! A 'Grandee' ticket is for anyone aged 60+. Adult: £20.95 Child: £16.95 Grandee: £10.00 Disabled Visitor & Helper: £13.95 (each) Under 4 Years: Free There are also a wide range of family packs available which should always be given a chance. These can always save you a little bit of money which is always good. Family Ticket A: £66.00 2 Adults + 2 Children (4-11) Family Ticket B: £83.00 2 Adults + 3 Children (4-11) Family Ticket C: £49.80 1 Adult + 2 Children (4-11) Family Plus 4 Ticket: £74.00 2 Adults + 2 Children (12+) Extra Tickets: These are the prices of an extra ticket when purchased with a family pack, these are useful if the family pack doesn't fit your family perfectly. Adult: £17.50 Child: £15.50 Grandee: £7.00 Adult & Toddler: £12.00 I am a little confused as to why it is £5.50 cheaper to take a toddler with you than not but nonetheless that's how it is. I like how Drayton Manor provide family packs for families with only one adult as this may suit some families. There are a lot of families where one parent doesn't like going to the theme park so I think they are a great idea. |:| The Park |:| The park is set out into different areas so you can remember where different rides are and so they can keep rides of a similar type in sections together, in theory. The park is split into five sections with rides in each. Robinson's Land contains the smaller children's rides which is obviously suitable for children to enjoy so parents of young children may want to start there and adventure further later if you want to. You'll find small roller coasters, carousels and miniature pirate ships for the youngsters to get their first experience of a theme park on. If you have older children this is probably too tame. Another section for the youngsters though is Pirate Cove with a host of pirate related attractions to get kids excited. Fisherman's Wharf as you would expect is close to the lake with the main attraction of StormForce 10, which is a giant water roller coaster. It is also home to a new attraction this year which is the Bounty. This is a new pirate ship ride which swings you over the lake below, sure to be a bit of fun. Aerial Park and Action Park are the last two sections and they are the home to most of the thrill rides for the older theme park goer. With a large selection of thrill rides, different to any other theme park this is definitely somewhere to go for thrill seekers. The queues for the rides in the sections are usually the longest and therefor more time consuming so pick your favourite if you don't think you'll have time for them all. As well as the five areas in the theme park there is also a zoo which is a great additional attraction to make it even more worth a visit for youngsters. If you find you've got a bored child and all the rides have been ridden, take them to the zoo for something else to do. The zoo has a few different sections so it will take a while to have a good walk around and look at everything but always worth a visit. |:| Food |:| There are plenty of places around the park to eat with fast food stands all over the place. Parents of older children may wish to take a seat in the lakeside tea shop which is available or have tea in the restaurant if you don't fancy some fast food. I only ate from one of the fast food stalls but it was very nice food, good service and lots of it! I think all my friends ended up with too much to eat. Seems a bit silly to me, if anywhere could justify small portions I'd have thought it would be a theme park but I'm not complaining! |:| The Rides |:| Alright then what have they got to offer to take you to Drayton Manor rather than any other theme park? Well as I have already said the rides here are different, lots of original rides in the same place, if you think you've tried everything then think again and come here! I'll go through a few of the rides available and a bit of detail about each one. The queue times are based on what I experienced when I was there which didn't seem that busy really so don't take them for fact! I will give rides I went on a rating out of ten but I unfortunately missed a lot due to bad timing. I will update if I go again! Maelstrom ::Action Park ::::1.3m height restriction ::::::Average Queue Time: 30 minutes Like being at the front of a roller coaster so that you get that face full of wind as you go around the track? Well this lets everybody be at the front as everyone sits facing outwards on a giant circular base. This is then swung from side to side much like a pirate ship type ride only the circle spins by it's own accord as it flies through the air. A whole lot of fun when it reaches over 20 metres in height. This is one of the favourites at the theme park so there will always be a large queue but don't be put off, it has a very large seating capacity so it goes down pretty quickly. 9/10 - So fun I went on twice! Great ride, exciting and comfortable! Apocalypse ::Aerial Park ::::1.4m Standing. 1.2m Sitting. ::::::Average Queue Time: 40 minutes Now this is a very scary looking ride. Voted the scariest ride in the UK by readers of the Sunday Times this is sure to get even the daring of people a little bit scared. This is the world's first standing drop tower. Reaching a final height of 54 metres the riders then drop by gravity alone to the floor at a 15 degree angle down the tower. The unique part is that you can choose from three seating options: 1. Sit down - nice and comfy and you can pretend you're somewhere else if it gets too much. 2. Stand Up - You can stand up on the platform with a small bicycle seat for support but you are essentially standing free. 3. Hanging - Yes, hanging. You can choose to be held entirely by the strength of your shoulder harness while you take that sudden drop, only for massive thrill seekers but it is sure to please. Pandemonium ::Aerial Park ::::1.2m height restriction ::::::Average Queue Time: 20 minutes This is one of the newer attractions at the park that took over the place of the previous ride SkyFlyer but it does basically the same thing. There are two carriages full of people. They swing in opposite directions until you reach the point where you make a full 360 degree turn in the air. At the top point they stop you for a few seconds just to make everyone scream and think it's broken! A scary ride for those who don't like being put solely in the support of the shoulder rests, like me. Also beware of feeling a little nautious afterwards, side effect of the being upside down. 4/10 - I don't like being upside down!! G-Force ::Action Park ::::1.3m height restriction ::::::Average Queue Time: 30 minutes G-Force is another one of Drayton Manor's unique features, known as an 'X-Car Coaster' it holds you in by the waist as it takes you for a ride around the winding and twisting track instead of the traditional shoulder rests. This gives you a little more freedom when you're riding so should be more comfortable. It takes you at forces of up to 4.3Gs at a speed of 70kmp/h. A great ride for roller coaster lovers and a bit different if you've got bored of coasters. StormForce 10 ::Fisherman's Wharf ::::1.2m height restriction ::::::Average Queue Time: 50 minutes StormForce 10 is a water coaster which is placed over the lake at Drayton Manor. It takes you around a winding track before taking you up high above the theme park then bringing you back down with a splash! I would have to say that if you plan on going on this ride, don't go on the back row! We thought 'Hey, if we don't want to get wet then the back's gotta be the right choice!'. How wrong we were. This has Britain's only backward's drop in a water coaster and unfortunately the carriages are not designed to protect you from wetness going backwards and the water just goes straight into your back, all over the seat and everything! The people in the front were dry! Great fun, as it's a water ride I'd say go on this at the beginning to avoid going home wet! 9/10 - Really great fun even if I got a bit wet! Shockwave ::Action Park ::::1.4m height restriction ::::::Average Queue Time: 35 minutes This is Europe's only stand up roller coaster. Another one of Drayton Manor's unique selling point, for roller coaster lovers who want to have something a little different. This is one that I wish I could have gone on but didn't have time! This would be first on my list if I go again, sounds like something different that would be enjoyable. Splash Canyon ::Action Park ::::Under 1m accompanied by an adult ::::::Average Queue Time: 25 minutes This is for a bit of a break but still having a lot of fun. Riding on a big circular raft down around half a mile of rapids for a lot of wet fun that lets you relax. Watch out because you stand a good chance of getting wet. You may avoid it but don't count on it! Lots of fun that can be enjoyed by the little kids as well. And it gives the kids a chance to say they've been on one of the named thrill rides. 8/10 - Real fun, nothing for thrill seekers but good relaxation. As well as the thrill rides there are a lot of smaller children's rides which are available for kids that are too young for the big rides. These are just typical carnival style rides with small roller coasters, carousels, pirate ships and other rides. A nice ride that I went on while I was there was an indoor cruise around dark caves with things happening all around you to keep you amused. Nice and relaxing and brilliant for the kids. Drayton Manor has been voted as the best UK attraction for children by Group Leisure readers so you know you should definitely have them satisfied! |:| Conclusion |:| Overall this is a great theme park, not as big in comparison to Alton Towers and as it is right on it's doorstep you may feel you may as well go there if you've traveled a fair distance but it's smaller atmosphere to me gives it a more family friendly feel and there is much less walking. Everything in the park is within around a five minutes walk at the very most. It has a great selection of unique rides for thrill seeking coaster riders and a lot of rides for the children along with the additional feature of the zoo which never fails to please the kids. |:| Details |:| Drayton Manor Park near Tamworth Staffordshire B78 3TW For more information: 08708 725252 www.draytonmanor.co.uk
I thought I'd do a review of Alton Towers because it will give me a lot to write about and I went there quite recently for the first time and enjoyed it very much. I haven't written in this kind of category before and only now do I see how much there actually is to write, so here goes: Alton Towers Theme Park is the most famous theme park which has been successfully running since 1980. The park is set high in the hills of Alton in Staffordshire and it is so well hidden amongst the trees that if the queues and queues of cars within a few miles of the place weren't there you'd never notice it! The theme park is expanding and has increased vastly since it's opening in 1980. The buying up of the theme park has caused more and more money to be put into the park which is only good for thrill seekers! The amount of new rides is increasing but at the expense of the admittance fees. The higher fees by no means stops people from visiting though with still around 2.5 million visitors each year. It is easy to find directions to it from where you live just by using online guidance websites. |:| Opening Times |:| The theme park is open this year from the 17th March through until 11th November. This gives riders the nice hot British summer time to enjoy the rides with preferably less rainfall but being Britain I doubt it. The gates to the park open at 9.30am and the rides and other attractions open at 10:00am. To make the most of your money and your day I would suggest getting there on time or it will seem wasted. When I went we got there at around 1 o'clock and because of that we didn't get around everything we wanted to. The closing times vary throughout the time it is open so check online or when you get there to see how long you will have to enjoy it! |:| Prices |:| The cost of getting into the park these days is very expensive so trips there I presume for most families would be few and far between. There are many different prices as the cost changes depending upon how you pay and when you want to go. There are three sets of prices, normal day ticket, event day ticket and buying online. The prices are as follows: Adult Normal Day Pass: £32 Event Day Pass: £34 Buying Online: £24 Child (A child by Alton Towers' standards is seen as Under 12) Normal Day Pass: £22 Event Day Pass: £23 Buying Online: £16 Senior Normal Day Pass: £16 Event Day Pass: £17 Buying Online: £12 Disabled Normal Day Pass: £16 Event Day Pass: £17 Buying Online: £12 There are two family packages available as well as the single tickets which are available for two adults and either two or three children, the prices are: Family (with two children) Normal Day Pass: £89 Event Day Pass: £95 Buying Online: £78 Family (with three children) Normal Day Pass: £99 Event Day Pass: £105 Buying Online: £88 The family packages are quite useful as they can save you a lot of money compared to buying each ticket individually. Also the option of buying cheaper online is good as it allows you to again save a little bit more to try and make the day even more worth it! Under 4s are given free access to the park but obviously you'll need to take somebody to look after them while you go on the more adult rides so maybe not a great idea. As well as the admission prices there are also car parking fees which are around £5 depending on when you visit so it's useful if somebody drops you off and doesn't stay. There are drop off points but they are quite a way from the car park, we got someone to go into the car park and drop us off then drive out, nobody complained. There are many offers available for getting cheaper or even free tickets. The only reason I went recently was that my friend had got four free tickets from their parents through Tesco Clubcard points, I never realised you could get such useful things from using those cards! There are other offers too but I am unsure as to any specifically, check online and you'll find some deals. As well as the tickets there are a couple of other things that you may wish to pay for, just in case you feel you haven't spend enough yet. There are shortcut tickets to get you on rides quicker, these are: Shortcut: Thrills This will get you in the shortcut queue for Air, Nemesis, Obvlivion and The Flume once each while you're at the theme park. This is ideal for those of you who love the thrill rides and don't like the waiting times! There is a 1.4 metre height limit for all of these rides. Shortcut: Family: This ticket will get you into the shortcut queue for Duel, Corkscrew, The Runaway Mine Train and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This is obviously an ideal one for the family, not sure Corkscrew is one for the little 'uns but what do I know? There is a 1.2 metre height limit for these rides. Shortcut: Unlimited: This ticket works just like the Thrill shortcut ticket only it works over and over again, hence the Unlimited name tag. This is those who just cannot get enough of one of the rides and love going on it again and again. There's still a 1.4 metre height limit. Rita Speeding Ticket: This will get you to jump the queue for Rita: Queen of Speed one of th most recently added rides. This is for those speed freaks who love this ride and don't want to wait. There can be very long queues for it and it takes several minutes just to walk around the queue walkway when there's nobody there so this to save your legs as well! X-Celerator: This will get you a one time queue jump of any of the rides, excluding those in Old MacDonald's Farmyard. This is perfect for people only planning on going on each ride once as you'll be able to fit loads more into your day. Each of these can be bought at the gate or around the park for varying prices. They seem to be about £7 from sellers hanging around outside the rides that are mentioned on the pass. You are sometimes lucky enough to find them giving them away but then there's a whole load of other people with free tickets so it doesn't help much! As well as this there is now a 'Your Day DVD' option available which has caused a lot of criticism from the press as this DVD package films you going all around the park from their cameras all around the park. You get a 20 minute DVD of your day there and all the rides you went on too. This is ideal if your kids tend to want the souvenir photos as you can just get it all in one package with this. Electronically tagged wristbands are put on the user and cameras follow them wherever they go. |:| The Park |:| The park itself is huge and made up of lots of different sections to make it a bit easier to remember where you are. Each of the different sections has different things to offer you, most of the rides are pretty spread out which is quite annoying when you want to go on certain ones. It pays to plan ahead but you have time while waiting in queues to do all that so you don't need to do it beforehand really. Getting around is simple enough, walk! There are two skyride lines taking you between three different sections. These are handy as it takes you between the furthest away parts of the park. Here's a runthrough of the sections of the park. Well getting into the park itself is always a nice place to start. From the car park you will see a lot of people all heading for one point, go to that point. They should take you to the monorail which is the easiest way to avoid the long walk down to the park. It may be useful on the way out to avoid getting the very last one and try and go a while before because it gets very busy towards the end. After your trip on the monorail you get to the entrance where you have to pay. Yes, you can go on the monorail for free! This leads you down to 'Towers Street' which is a row of guest service shops who look after lost property and other such things. Old MacDonald's Farmyard and Cred Street are the perfect places for the young visitors. As you can probably assume from the name, Old MacDonald's Farmyard is a few farmyard oriented children's rides. Children's rides are available at Cred Street too which contains the new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ride along with some other smaller rides. This area is a bit like a carnival with a carousel and a playground. It also has a large MacDonalds for lunchtime. Forbidden Valley, Ug Lang and X-Sector contain more of the thrill rides as Nemesis, Air, Rita, Corkscrew, Oblivion and others reside within them. Unfortunately they are a little separated from one and other so take them one section at a time getting all of the rides in one area done before going to another. The Towers and The Gardens are some of the more relaxing places. Take a walk around the Alton Towers if you dare or take a walk around the pretty gardens next to them. The skyride takes you over lovely views of the gardens so if you want it all without the effort, take a few rides on the skyride! Katanga Canyon and Merrie England contain the two largest water rides in the park. Katanga Canyon is home to the River Rapids ride which is always a bit of fun. I've been on one of these at Drayton Manor which was very similar. Don't go on if you don't want to risk of getting wet. Merrie England contains the Flume which is a dead certainty to get you wet so go on it early so you can dry off on later rides. |:| Food |:| There are food stalls and restaurants placed all over the park so you will not have to walk far when you are hungry. It is not an awful lot cheaper to buy at an Alton Towers provided stall than a MacDonalds, KFC or Pizza Hut so don't think taking the kids to one of those will be any worse. I would recommend eating quite regularly throughout the day to keep up your energy, those rides take a lot out of you and the walking is a struggle too. Obviously don't pig out just before going on Rita because the people below don't want it over them later... |:| The Rides |:| Obviously the rides are the most important part of a theme park! What would be the point with out them? And Alton Towers has all sorts, you're bound to find some that you like. I will give each of the rides that I went on during my visit a score out of ten but I won't give scores to those I haven't been on as I wouldn't know as well as somebody who had been on it. I've also put an average queue time of what they seemed to be when I went. Here's a list of the rides and a little bit about them: Nemesis ::Forbidden Valley ::::1.4m height restriction ::::::Average Queue Time: 40 minutes This was the first ever inverted rollercoaster to be available in Europe. This means that instead of sitting down with something underneath you you are hung from the top with your legs dangling underneath you. This still remains one of the parks biggest attractions despite it's age as it's twists, turns and loops provide great entertainment. I was lucky enough to go on it with just two other people who were both my friends. It seems to go so much faster at the front and when it's empty! If you have the time to queue in the front row queue I highly recommend it! Not for those who aren't too keen on rollercoasters. 10/10 - I loved it! Air ::Forbidden Valley ::::1.4m height restriction ::::::Average Queue Time: 45 minutes Right this was officially my first ever rollercoaster a measly few months ago. You get in it like you would for Nemesis, you are hanging below the main structure of seating area and your legs are dangling below you. The you get tilted 90 degrees so you are face down as if you are flying, this is the aim of the ride anyway. I had my eyes closed through a lot of this so I didn't see the lovely views but it was still a great experience. Make sure you arrange your body position to get it comfortable on the front of your body, especially important for women. Us lucky blokes! 7/10 - Maybe I'd enjoy it now I got used to the 'coasters but not a good choice of first rollercoaster! Oblivion ::X-Sector ::::1.4m height restriction ::::::Average Queue Time: 25 minutes This is one of the more unique rides at the park and a very scary concept before you go on. You are seated and then taken up very high above the whole of the park, beautiful views if you weren't otherwise preoccupied. The height is probably the scariest thing... until you are hung over a dark pit then thrown vertically down it into the pitch black. A very enjoyable ride AFTER you have been on it! You can see the funny side then, definitely one for the thrill seekers. 8/10 - Great fun once it's over, it is a bit short though. The Flume ::Merrie England ::::0.9m height restriction (Under 1.1m accompanied by an adult) ::::::Average Queue Time: 30 minutes This is just like any other log flume only very big. Great ride for getting you wet and it is always great fun. It is strategically placed at the beginning so you can get it out of the way first. Always fun to ride the flume and it is as exciting as the rollercoasters. One for the kids too with a height limit of only 0.9m. Rita - Queen of Speed ::Ug Land ::::1.4m height restriction ::::::Average Queue Time: 40 minutes Rita is definitely the ride for the lovers of speed, this takes you from 0-100km/h in under three seconds with a force of 4.7 G's as you go flying around the circuit. This had to be the scariest ride I went on all day, so much so that I didn't enjoy it that much. I thought I was going to go flying off into the trees or something! Going on it again I'm sure I would be fine but do not underestimate it! 7/10 - Thrilling indeed but a bit fast for me! The Blade ::Forbidden Valley ::::0.9m height restriction (Under 1.1m accompanied by an adult) ::::::Average Queue Time: 10 minutes This one of the more calm 'thrill' rides as named so on the map given to you at the entrance. It is a pirate ship type ride which rocks you backwards and forwards up to a point where you experience a feeling of zero gravity. Makes your stomach go all funny. A nice ride for the experience and it has shorter queues than the other rides as it is close to Air, Ripsaw and Nemesis. 6/10 - Nothing special but it is a bit of fun. One to take the kids on if they want to tick off some of the thrill rides. Ripsaw ::Forbidden Valley ::::1.4m - 1.95m height restriction ::::::Average Queue Time: - This was unfortunately closed when we went, one of the nasty habits of theme parks is to have at least one ride closed that you wanted to go on! This spins you around and around before spraying you in the face with jets of water, sound like your cup of tea? Hope it's open if you go then. I think I may exceed the 1.95 metre height restriction anyway. Spinball Whizzer ::Adventure Land ::::1.2m - 1.95m height restriction ::::::Average Queue Time: 30 minutes This is a ride that looks just fantastic even just from watching it. It looks like a kid's toy or something from Willy Wonka's Chocolate factory. I didn't get a chance to ride on this as it was a little full when we got there. Small carriages of three or four people are taken around a winding track while their carriages spin wildly around as they go. Magical looking ride, I liked it. Corkscrew ::Ug Land ::::1.2m height restriction ::::::Average Queue Time: 25 minutes This is one of the original rollercoasters at Alton Towers, the age can be told by the rickety ride of the Corkscrew. It isn't too bad you just get a nasty jolt every now and again. This is a little different to the other rollercoasters as it has corkscrews in the track. This is a spin sideways rather than a loop. This is one for the kids if they want to get on a rollercoaster. 6/10 - Not a bad experience but doesn't live up to the new rides I don't think. Congo River Rapids ::Katanga Canyon ::::0.9m height restriction (Under 1.1m accompanied by an adult) ::::::Average Queue Time: 30 minutes This is a very enjoyable way to end the day. The ride through the rapids is actually quite calm and if you get lucky you avoid getting wet. The ride lasts quite a long time too which I was impressed by so I highly recommend this for adults and children. Water makes everything more fun! 8/10 - Relaxing and wet! Squirrel Nutty Ride ::Adventure Land ::::Under 1.1m accompanied by an adult ::::::Average Queue Time: 15 minutes This is one of the rides for younger children. A cute little ride based around riding through the tree tops and there are plenty of squirrels to keep you company. Nice ride for the kids to enjoy. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: The Ride ::Cred Street ::::Under 1m accompanied by an adult. No babies. ::::::Average Queue Time: 25 minutes This is the multi-million pound ride that Alton Towers have forked out their money for, just for you! Obviously it is taken from the story of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. You get taken around the factory and even experience the Great Glass Elevator! I assume that you don't fly into space with it like in the books but I haven't been on it so what do I know?! Right I think that's enough rides gone through. If you feel I need to add more about the kids' rides then let me know but I haven't been on them so I don't know. The queue times vary throughout the season in which it is open so you may find them to be different to what I say. A tip for when you're there: There are boards telling you the queue time at the moment, go to the one with the longest time, or near enough because people tend to have stopped going to that one because of the queue. The boards are a little behind so when you get there you have a short queue. We went to Air when it said there was a ten minute queue and waited half an hour. Went to oblivion with a 40 minute queue time and that only took about 10 or fifteen minutes! All of the thrill rides like Oblivion, Air, Nemesis etc. have their own gift shop where after riding on them you can take a look at your picture which was taken at some point around the ride. These offer quite a bit of amusement afterwards and if you feel the need to buy it as a souvenir you have quite a few options. The picture can be framed or put onto a mug, a keyring or even a t-shirt! I wouldn't let children too near these or they'll want them all for every ride! The basic pictures come for about £6 and it's only upwards from there. If you buy multiple copies the average cost goes down. |:| Hotels |:| If you have traveled quite a long way then you might want to take a look at the hotel facilities that are available. Not only now is the Alton Towers Hotel available for close access to the park but now the Splash Landings Hotel which has a massive waterpark at the back which I think is only for stayers at that hotel. Alton Towers Hotel This comes with the facility of the Spa which is perfect for adults with older children who can go around the park on their own and they can stay in the leisurely spa if they don't feel like walking down to the park. The walkway from the hotel takes you directly into the park into the Forbidden Valley section. This footpath is useful for both hotels though it is closer to the Alton Towers Hotel as that was there first. Splash Landings Hotel This is a bit of a taste of the Caribbean and comes with the incredible facility of the massive waterpark right on the doorstep. The hotel is more for those who feel they do not need to rest between visits to the theme park as this gives great opportunities to keep having fun at night as well as in the day as opposed to the more relaxing objective of the Alton Towers Hotel. The Cariba Creek Waterpark contains quite a few features so I'll just quickly go through them. The Bubbly Wubbly pool is a steaming outdoor pool to splash around in. Flash Flood has three separate tropical pools and slides for the kids to play around on. The Tipping Bucket is thousand litres of water dropping on your head. Wacky Waterworks Treehouse has some winding rivers where you get squirted with water. Lazy River, just lie there and float! Lagoona Bay is the main swimming pool area with waterfalls, geysers and a water cannon to finish it off. Volcanic Springs is a tropical whirlpool. The Little Leak is for the very young swimmers, smaller version of Lagoona Bay and finally Master Blaster is a rollercoaster in the water with the option to get photos just like in the theme park. Price: The pricing is the same for both hotels so I'll not write it out twice. These are the prices for a family of two adults and two children staying in one room. Remember children is still under 12. Bed & Breakfast - £127.00 Bed & Breakfast & Waterpark - £163.00 Bed & Breakfast & 1 Day Theme Park - £201.00 Bed & Breakfast, Waterpark & 1 Day Theme Park - £237.00 Bed & Breakfast & Theme Park - £215.00 Bed & Breakfast, Waterpark & Theme Park - £215.00 I can only assume that the 'Theme Park' entries without the one day attachment allow you in for as long as you are staying. |:| Conclusion |:| I would say that this is the all round perfect day out for kids and fun loving adults alike! And if you like it that much you can always stay over the night at the lovely hotels and even go back for more the next day! It is great for big rides, easily the best place in Britain for the total package. There are other theme parks but nothing beats the thrill of going to Alton Towers. It's one of those things that for my generation you just have to do at some point in your life or you might as well not have bothered living! I am very glad to finally be able to say that I have been there and a very enjoyable day out I had indeed. There is enough there to keep the adults amused while the kids go on the rides and it is a great opportunity to let that inner child come out to play for a while in this over grown playground. Don't go calling in work sick to get in when it's empty or you'll get the park in more trouble! Seriously a very fun place to have been to and I hope to go again in the not too distant future, maybe next year. If you're going soon then I'm jealous! Great place for all the family to enjoy. |:| Contact Details |:| Alton Towers Alton Staffordshire ST10 4DB Ticket Booking: 08704 44 44 55 Hotel Reservation: 08704 58 51 46 www.altontowers.com
Right, I am going to stick to what seems quite popular on the reviews for this section: Dooyoo vs. Ciao. It makes sense considering these seem to be the biggest and most popular sites around for writing reviews and getting paid for it. There are others that I am unsure about, Epinions.com for instance. I have joined the Epinions community and entered a few, around about five to be precise, reviews onto the site. They are nothing special, I am new to this whole business so I'm not quite good enough for crowns yet. but nonetheless I entered my reviews and they were read, all but one rated as 'very helpful' the other only 'helpful' and my earnings still sit on $0.00 so I'm rather flumoxed as to what I've got to do... maybe they only reward high quality ones I do not know. But onwards with the Ciao vs. Dooyoo debate, before I run out of steam. I am a very recent member of both communities: member of Ciao since 15/ 05/ 07 and member of Dooyoo since 21/ 05/ 07. So yes, I am a very new member to both as it is the early evening of the 27/ 05/ 07. That's just twelve days on Ciao and six days on Dooyoo so you may not count my opinion for much but I have been very busy in those few days pulling out reviews on everything and anything from all over the place just trying to improve my writing skills. Rewards The rewards are the main incentive for some writers and just a bit of a bonus for others. I originally started trying to earn a bit of extra cash for spending on things I couldn't afford, I suppose I haven't done too bad and this almost works out as better than my previous Sunday job I had that only paid me around ten pounds. So I thought I'd continue but I find it more fun to write than earn the money now, which surprises me! Ciao's rewards are a bit inconsistent. There are four levels of payment per good rating depending on the level given next to the product before you review it. You can either earn 0p, 0.5p, 1p or 2p per positive rating for your reviews. Obviously if you are in it purely for the money then you can stick to the higher earners if you can find products to review and you'll get more but for those who enjoy to write then you may not get rewarded very well for your writing. Although it is a low incentive compared to Dooyoo's, if you get the first review on a product it then doubles the amount you earn per rating for the first month so you can earn up to four pence per rating which is not bad. I have earned most of my money so far with 4p-per-rating reviews. Dooyoo's reward system definitely is more rewarding in the amount of cash given to the average writer like myself. 3p per positive rating on a review is not bad, and your money goes up quite quickly if you get the reviews out quick enough. I like that every review gets you the same on here because it means that I'm not inclined to putting on obscure reviews about my washing machine just because it will earn me more. On here I'm more worried about keeping my reviews at 'very helpful' rather than 'helpful'. The outstanding reviews on each site have their own ways of being rewarded. Dooyoo has a bit of a more common system. The crown system is almost equivalent to the exceptional rating except that it pays you in cash rather than 'warm feelings' of writing a good review. However for the consistently brilliant review writers like there are out there, Ciao rewards truly outstanding reviews with a share of the 'Premium Fund' a sum of £1100 which is split between the best reviews for that month. You can earn up to £15 per review with this so it could be a possible money making machine if you have the talent. My experience of the sites so far show me quite clearly that Dooyoo is better paid. I spend less time on Dooyoo, I've been a member half the time and I have half the number of reviews and yet I still have more money on here than on Ciao. A whopping total of £7.98 sits pretty in my homepage upon writing this review after a measly six days, not half bad in my opinion. Keep in mind I have not received a crown and I haven't been on Ciao long enough to have even been considered for Premium Fund. So compared to the £7.98 I have earned on Dooyoo I have earned only £7.04 on Ciao. Not much of a difference really but with the time and difference in number of reviews it is quite substantial. Another opportunity for money making on Ciao is the paid surveys, these get sent to your email address whenever they think they should suit you. I think I have around £2.50 waiting to be put into my account from that. They are a little tedious and annoying when you get halfway through and it decides it doesn't need you for that specific survey and you've just lost five minutes of your life. Not a big money maker but a bit of an extra if you have the time. Getting paid is another issue to do with earning money and for that Ciao definitely has the upper hand over Dooyoo. For UK citizens, you need to have 55,000 Dooyoo Miles (£55) to remove it from your account and then you have a £5 handling charge unless you have over 100,000 DM. You can receive the money in Amazon Vouchers if you wish but this is a bit different to actually getting the money. Also the Miles run out after a year of earning them so make sure you claim them in time! On Ciao, any amount of money over £5 can be transferred straight into your bank account with no handling charge. A much more efficient way of running things. Community The community is far more brought together and chatty on Ciao than on Dooyoo. It is easy to talk to another member by putting a message in their guestbook, you do not get notified of added comments so it's up to you to check. It's just a place to talk if you feel like it and thank people for ratings if you feel the need to. Dooyoo's messaging system seems much less used. I don't like using it that much as my computer won't let me reply I have to go to their profile and click send message which gets tiresome but these are private unlike the guestbook. My private guestbook on Ciao is very rarely used, I think I only have one message in their, that may just be me though. An added community feature of Ciao is the 'Community Points' system. Originally I thought community points and Dooyoo Miles were the same but I turned out to e wrong. Dooyoo Miles are a representation of how much money you have, 10 miles per penny. Ciao Community Points give you an amount of points and a coloured dot in accordance to how much you participate in the community. You get points for posting reviews; getting and giving ratings and comments; receiving reads and being put into another person's Circle of Trust. This is a bit silly and pointless but it gives you an idea of the quality of the person's work before you read it as you would expect people who have been their a long time to write better than those who have just started. I am more inclined to rate a review by someone with a gold dot than a white one as I know it will be entertaining and of high quality not just a paragraph of jibberish. The 'Circle of Trust' and 'Circle of Friends' features are both pretty much the same to be honest so there is not a lot to talk about. The only difference is that Ciao reward members for getting 'trusted' by another member with massive 80 community points! Your Audience You are writing reviews, you want them to get read! The two sites both work as a reviewer and a consumer site so consumers will read your review, though without being able to comment or rate your reviews you won't know what they think. Ciao has a much larger amount of products on it to review. I have found that many reviews I have written on there cannot be transferred to Dooyoo as they do not have the product. There is the 'Suggestions' option but I can never be bothered to find a supplier's URL to recommend them to Dooyoo. The amount of reads seems pretty even at the moment but I would say that Ciao is a bigger site and therefore larger audience. Dooyoo and Ciao have both given my reviews pretty even amount of ratings and reviews. I have less reviews on Dooyoo though so anyone wishing to return any ratings/ comments I have given have less choice than on Ciao. Conclusion If you want to make money from these then the best thing is to use both! But if you want to concentrate on one then I would have to say Dooyoo is better for the average writer. Ciao rewards outstanding reviews more prestigiously than Dooyoo so if you are good enough you should try your luck on Ciao. If you just want to talk to people and have people read your reviews, I highly recommend Ciao. I don't see why people don't just use both though, much more successful way of going about it!
Note: Review for movie not DVD. The Movie The concept of the film was very simple: a happy couple together enjoying life with one and other and then one day, something gets out of hand and they fall out, they break up, the end. Done. Review Over. The Story But of course it's not as simple as that! The film starts with a little clip of the two meeting followed by a lot of photo shots of their happy two years together so there's no wasting time really before the main plot of the film gets put into place which is good. The haste of getting to the actual breaking up shows that there is a lot to happen in the rest of the film which is always good. The scene is set in Chicago where Gary, a simp[le young man, works for the firm 'The Three Brothers' as a highly successful and much loved tour bus commentator giving guided tours around the city with the help of a few laughs. The ambitious firm plans to go seawards and skywards giving tours of the city from all angles and Gary's got to help. Played by Vince Vaughn, the character seems content to begin with with what he has. He has a decent job, his own place and a girlfriend who loves him. This girlfriend is Brooke, played by Jennifer Aniston, an arts saleswoman. She works for big time multi-millionaire artist Marilyn Dean (Judy Davis) in the Marilyn Dean Gallery in the centre of the city. Seemingly a little more upper class than Gary enjoying art pieces and ballets whereas he prefers baseball and Grand Theft Auto for PlayStation 2. The relationship between the unlikely couple is going well, together for two years as the story begins. The beginning of the end is apparent almost from the get go. A small tiff begins when Brooke is cooking dinner and preparing for a meal with both of their families and she has asked Gary to get her twelve lemons, but missing the vital piece of information he only brings her three. As ever a remarkably silly thing to fall out over but that's how things are! After a little row they patch it up a little and act the part when the families arrive. The scene of the family dinner, while setting up the end of the relationship, is a highly entertaining bit of film. Gary's side of the family: dad, mum and brothers are, as suggested by Gary's character, a little less civilised than Brooke's side of the family with attempted rude jokes and a clear dislike for certain qualities of some of Brooke's family. On Brooke's side of the family there is mum and dad and in my eyes star of the scene her brother Richard, who is a rather flamboyant member of the male acapella vocal group The Tone Rangers. Trying to bring the family together with a good ol' sing-song, what is there not to like about this guy? But Vince above all is not amused. The character of Gary from the start shows that he gets what he wants, and doesn't stand for what he doesn't want. The more selfish and rude side of Gary's character is brought out by the meeting of the families and he takes it out on Brooke. With a swift argument and a few flying insults she's out of there. Well eventually he leaves to seek condolences with his friend in the bar who continuously has terrible advice for him and luckily Gary realises that much at least. After the break up the film becomes a bit of a warfare type strategy game... each player taking turns to get one over on the other. This is not exactly what either of them want but bad advice and even worse interpretations of that advice cause strange things to happen. Brooke is trying now to get Gary jealous by going out with other men but nothing ever comes of them they are just for show. Gary takes this as though she's completely over him and, amongst other things, has crazy strip poker/ dancing parties with a few girls his friends have provided. Not the best way to go about getting back the woman you love! The Acting The leading actors in this are obviously Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn who as expected from veterans of the business put on a very good show and play their roles brilliantly and are well deserved of their parts. Other characters such as the couple's friends are all high quality actors and I don't think there is a lot to complain about to do with acting. High budget film so the acting standards were to be expected Genre Obviously this is quite based around the genre of a Rom-Com chick flick but with an obvious twist in the way that the characters are not falling in love, they are falling out of love and hitting a few sharp objects on the way down! I would still call this a chick flick and I'm a guy who enjoys them, don't know why but they're nice. This one takes you on an emotional journey with them and you really want them to get back together by the end and it leaves you hanging until the very end as to whether they're going to reunite or not. I think it's cleverly made and produced. Conclusion An interesting film with a few unexpected twists but nothing that cannot be predicted a few minutes before, it makes you feel a bit sad as you're watching but not too overwhelming. Good enough storyline to keep you interested throughout the whole film and not too thought wrenching so you have to concentrate too hard to relax. Details Director: Peyton Reed Rating: 12 Warnings: Strong Language, Sexual Content Running Time: 102 minutes Year: 2006 Price £5.26 at Amazon.co.uk