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S.W.A.T is an action film released in 2003 and based on the 1975 television series of the same name and is directed by Clark Johnson, stars Samuel L Jackson, Colin Farrell, Michelle Rodriguez, LL Cool J
The film starts with a hostage situation at a bank in Los Angeles. Officer Jim Street (Farrell), a former Navy Seal is now a Police Officer and is a member of the LAPD S.W.A.T (Special Weapons and Tactics) unit. His team is sent to deal with the gang of heavily armed robbers who have taken control of the bank. During this incident Streets' friend and quick tempered partner Brian Gamble (Jeremy Renner from The Hurt Locker) wounds a hostage after ignoring an order. They are both demoted but following an arguement with the Captain, Brian quits the department while Street is sent to work the "gun cage" as punishment to clean kit and service weapons for the unit.
The Chief of Police wants SWAT re-organized and calls in a former member to do this. Sergeant Daniel "Hondo" Harrelson (Jackson) who doesn't get on with Captain Fuller puts his own team together. His team is made up of:
Samuel L. Jackson, as Sergeant Second Grade Daniel "Hondo" Harrelson
Colin Farrell, as Police Officer Third Grade Jim Street
Michelle Rodriguez, as Police Officer Third Grade Chris Sánchez
LL Cool J, as Police Officer Third Grade Deacon "Deke" Kaye
Josh Charles, as Police Officer Third Grade T.J. McCabe.
Brian Van Holt, as Police Officer Third Grade Michael Boxer
The training sequences and banter between the team is very good.
Meanwhile, Alexander Montel (Olivier Martinez) a french drug lord has come to Los Angeles after killing his father to take over the family empire. In LA he kills his uncle, but is later pulled over by uniformed police and detained for a broken brakelight. While in detention his true identity as an international fugitive is realised. During a prison transfer his associates attempt to free him but S.W.A.T intervene and stop the escape. While taking him into custody at the police station, Montel shouts to the reporters "I will give one hundred million dollars to whoever gets me out of here!!!"
LAPD now want to get Montel into Federal custody for Interpol to deport him, and his offer of $100 million has every big gang, mercenary and crazy wanting to help him escape. The main problem they have is a mystery shooter who took out a helicopter, planned to transport the prisoner. Can they succeed and get Montel to Federal prison?
Director: Clark Johnson is an actor and director and has done a very slick job with S.W.A.T, he has also directed episodes of The Wire, The Shield and NYPD Blue. He makes a small cameo in the film as Deke's partner.
This shows as it feels more like a pilot for a tv show rather than a feature film, but don't get me wrong it is still entertaining. The action pieces are well put together and have real tension, the opening sequence with fast zoom, shakes and grainy quality give the news footage feel. What really helps the film is the sound, the attention to detail her can be fully understood on the extras. Gunshots are not overly loud, police sirens and helicopter blades change sound with the direction of travel etc.
No real stretch for any of the cast, basically playing the same type of characters they always play.
Samuel L Jackson is cool and in charge
LL Cool J is cool
Michelle Rodriguez is tough as any guy
Colin Farrell smokes, drinks and likes the ladies
Altogether they work as a team, which is the same as S.W.A.T
2 Commentaries Director & Cast
8 Deleted scenes
3 Featurettes including 'Anatomy of a Shootout' & 'SWAT TV's original Supercops'
Making of SWAT
Blooper Reel: featuring Colin Farrell's vigourous workout regime!!! :-)
Theatrical Trailer: well edited, drawing you to watch the film without giving away too much of the plot
Homage to the Original 1970s show:
The soundtrack with the fast thempo theme music which had been a number one hit in 1976 for Rhythm Heritage
Cameos from original cast members, Steve Forrest who played Lt "Hondo" Harrelson is the van driver in the film, and Rod Perry who played Sgt David "Deacon" Kaye is Dekes father in the film.
Enjoyable, entertaining, a little predictable, but a film with good characters which are well played and is good for repeat viewings.
Goal! - The Impossible Dream is a rags to riches sports film focusing on a young Mexican immigrant, Santiago Munez, who has a great talent for football. After illegally entering the United States 10 years earlier, Santiago is working for his father gardening and in a Chinese restaurant washing dishes, he saves his money to buy some better kit to play for his local amateur team.
During one of his games he is spotted by Glen Foy a former football scout and player. Santiago really catches his eye with his skill on the ball and finishing. Glen asks the coach if he taught him that and the coach laughs and replies "God, taught him that". After the match Glen arranges for Barry Rankin a sport agent to come to see the next game. He doesn't show and Santiagos' father tells his son it is all a waste of time and he should concentrate on the business, and that is how you measure a man.
Undetered by Barry not showing up, Glen gets in touch with the manager of his home team Newcastle United, in the middle of the night he agrees to give him a trail if he shows up at St.James' Park in Newcastle.
Santiago works hard to save for the trip over, but as he gets close his father steals his stash of money to buy a new pick up truck and offers him half of the gardening business. To let him follow his dream of becoming a professional his grandmother sells some of her jewellery and gives him enough money and a Mexican passport to get him to England.
The film continues with Santiago trying to succeed in joining Newcastle United, it has trials and tribulation, love and loss, tragedy and triumphs.
There a few things which set this film apart from most other sport movies:
1. Danny Cannon directed, being a British director and a football fan gave him a greater understanding of how to film 'the beautiful game'. You can see the style he has used on CSI in the aerial shots used in the film, Newcastle city and the coastline look amazing and the great use of music; Oasis, Kasabian, Happy Mondays to name a few.
2. Realistic - real football superstars, real games, real stadium. Some of the stars making appearances were Alan Shearer, David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane, Raul, Shay Given, Lee Bowyer, Jermaine Jenas, Kieron Dyer, Frank Lampard, Joe Cole, Steven Gerard, Jamie Carragher
One scene that stands out is when Santiago is in the gym at Newcastle United and you here a voice ask, "Are you finished on that son?". Santiago looks up and its Alan Shearer. Alan takes over on the leg extension machine and has a chuckle and then trebles the weight Santiago was using.
3. Cast - There were no outstanding performances in the film, but the cast was well put together.
Kuno Becker as Santiago Muñez
Alessandro Nivola as Gavin Harris
Stephen Dillane as Glen Foy
Anna Friel as Roz Harmison
Tony Plana as Santiago's father
Marcel Iures as Erik Dornhelm
Kieran O'Brien as Hughie McGowan
Sean Pertwee as Barry Rankin
Cassandra Bel as Christina
Alejandro Tapi as Júlio
4. Other cameos:
AC/DC singer Brian Johnson as a Newcastle United fan in a bar in Los Angeles
Local Newcastle celebrity/DJ - Mike 'The Mouth' as taxi driver
A good film, which if a little predictable didn't give a story through rose tinted spectacles but also shows the hardships along with the highs. The beautiful shots of Newcastle, the bridges over the Tyne and the Tynemouth coastline helped to boost tourism in the area. A great soundtrack of British bands.
1. Behind The Pitch
2. The Beauty of the Game
3. Audio Commentary by Danny Cannon
4. Happy Mondays Music Video
5. Munez +10
6. Golden Moments of the FIFA World Cup
7. Goal 2 Trailer
Running Time: 113 mins
About A Boy - is the 2002 film version of the excellent novel from Nick Hornby. Directed by brothers Chris & Paul Weitz, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Peter Hedges, earning them a Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Will Freeman (Hugh Grant), is a nearly 40-year old, happy bachelor who leads an easy life thanks to the royalties from a Christmas song written by his father. He manages to fill his days with smoking and watching television. After turning down a request from a couple of friends to be their childs godfather, Will becomes obsessed about dating single mums. He attends a single parents group and to fit in, he creates an imaginary 2-year old son called Ned. While trying to get to know Suzie, one of the single mothers at a picnic Will meets Marcus (Nicholas Hoult). Marcus is the eccentric 12-year old son of Suzies friend Fiona (Toni Collette), who is a hippie, depressed and suicidal mother. Marcus manages to kill a duck with a stale loaf of bread and Will steps in to help him out with the park keeper by saying the duck was already dead. On returning home they find Fiona, overdosed on pills. Marcus starts following Will and soon realises that he is single and childless, the complete opposite to how he introduced himself to the group. Marcus and Will, start hanging out at and they both begin to influence the others characters, Will becoming less shallow and Marcus coming more out of his shell.
I don't want to give a way too much of the plot, but it is worth watching just for the rendition of 'Killing Me Softly' near the end of the film.
Hugh Grant as Will Freeman
Toni Collette as Fiona Brewer
Rachel Weisz as Rachel
Nicholas Hoult as Marcus Brewer
Natalia Tena as Ellie
Sharon Small as Christine
This is a great film, adapted from an excellent book. Chris & Paul Weitz best known for American Pie, have adapted the novel to the big screen beautifully. Their direction shows a versatility of styles, the subtle comedy of scenes with Will & Marcus balances wonderfully with the serious subject of depression of Fionas character. The majority of Hugh Grants dialogue were his own ad-libbed one-liners. This really made the film for me and was a welcome departure from his usual floppy haired, bumbling, posh mister nice guy that he has become famous for. Another highlight was Nicholas Hoult in his cinematic debut, it could have been quite easy for the character of Marcus to go from one extreme to the other but throughout the film you can see both Marcus and Nicholas improve with confidence.
The film also features a great soundtrack from Badly Drawn Boy, worth getting the music as well as the film!!
People who are coming into the sport of snowboarding, the first name on their lips is going to be Burton. Jake Burton and his company truly dominate the market. In a short space of time snowboarding has gone from a small group of people in the know on the mountains competing against each other to the mainstream, world class sport, biggest growing leisure activity in the world we see today. Burton acheived this by their innovations to improve boards and thereby improve a riders learning curve and make the mountain and the sport more accessible.
The 'Clash' is the perfect entry level board within the Burton range. If you want to try your hand at tricks on the rails or boxes in the park, attempting some air in the pipe, carving down the slopes or hitting the powder then this board covers all the bases. The greatest asset this board has for the new rider is the friendless and forgiveness. The lightweight construction, gives plenty of mid/soft flex and the slighly tapered shape helps a new rider get into carving those turns in a short period of time but also helps in the powder.
The board has been around for a few years and each season Burton manage to do just a little something to try and improve on the last, but as a rule they all look good, they are true all-mountain boards and great to help a new rider progress their skills and confidence.
Price: Normally about the £220 range, but if you are lucky you may pick up a past season one for as little as £120. It pays to shop around.
The Snowboard Asylum offer a 'demo for free' at Milton Keynes Xscape, Castleford Xscape, Braehead Xscape & Tamworth Snowdome. If you try out a new season board and go ahead with purchase they will knock off the cost of your slope time (1 hour). Also worthwhile for new riders getting started with a set up to get them to find your ideal stance on the board. I wish I had this when I was first starting out, as it was a case of trial and error.
Enjoy the slopes!!!
I know some people are totally against zoo's and don't encourage people to visit them. Their arguement being that the animals are captive rather being returned to the wild. I can see their point of view but on the whole I feel the majority of zoo's do a fantastic amount of work in helping to conserve wildlife in it's natural habitat, by the study and techniques they have learnt over the years working with these amazing creatures. Dublin Zoo is definitley in that category.
On a recent trip to Dublin my partner and I visited Dublin Zoo, which is located in Phoenix Park, and you can easily get there on foot from the city centre, or by bus (Nos 10/10A, 25/25A, 26, 66/66A/66B, 67/67A, 68,69) or by using the new Phoenix Park Shuttle to Dublin Zoo. Starting at Park Gate St, beside Heuston Station and the Luas Line, it takes a circular route inside the park, stopping at Dublin Zoo, the Visitor Centre, the Papal Cross and Farmleigh.
The Phoenix Park Shuttle operates 7 days a week. Weekdays 7am - 6pm / Weekends and Public Holidays 10am - 6pm.
The zoo opened in 1830 and is open to the public 363 days of the year, only closing on Christmas Day and St.Stephens day. Opening times are always 09.30 and closing in the winter varies from 16.00-1700. During the peak March-September the zoo is open 09.30-18.00. I advise getting there as early as possible to avoid large groups and school parties.
Admission prices are accurate for 2009, so check the website for this year www.dublinzoo.ie
Single Tickets Price
Child over 3 and under 16 Euro10.50
Child under 3 Free
Senior Citizens Euro12.00
Special Needs Child Euro5.50
Special Needs Adult Euro8.70
Student (Must show valid student ID card) Euro12.50
Family Tickets Price
2 adults + 2 children Euro43.50
2 adults + 3 children Euro49.00
2 adults + 4 children Euro52.00
Group Prices (In parties of 10 people or more) Price
Dublin Zoo MembershipAllows free admission to Dublin Zoo for one year. Dublin Zoo members are also admitted free to Fota Wildlife Park (Cork), as well as Chester Zoo, Edinburgh Zoo and Paignton Zoo in the UK! Individual Membership is suitable for two adults.
Membership Type Price
Family Membership Cover:
Member + 3 Adults or
Member + 2 Adults + 2 Children or
Member + 1 Adult + 4 Children or
Member + 6 Children
The layout of the zoo is very good, and is a very enjoyable walk between enclosures. The array of animals is great with everything from A to Z, Afican Hunting Dog to Zebra with everything inbetween. When visiting a zoo I usually get round quite early and quickly first to get any photos without peoples hands and heads bobbing in the way, so I always go for the most popular enclosures first; big cats, primates, penguins & meerkats. I then normally take a break followed by a more steady walk round to have more time at each enclosure.
After we entered the zoo we turned left and followed the path and the first enclosure we came across was the the Sumatran Tiger, now the really good thing about Dublin Zoo is that on some of the enclosures they have clear glass, full height sections right next to the path so it is possible to really get up close to some of the animals if they want to. We did notice the tiger kept pacing along this section. As it was quiet it was a great photo opportunity to get my partner in shot with the tiger to give an idea of scale. She knelt down at the path and sure enough the tiger wandered past and it made for a great photo, but as soon as the photo had been taken the tiger had decided to do a full stretch up against the glass and must have easily reached the 7ft mark. As my partner looked round she got a bit of a shock and the quickened heart rate certainly woke her up that morning!! :-)
Another favourite on our trip round was the otter, these creatures fascinate me. I do have some living in the river only a couple of miles from my home, but as yet I have not been fortunate to spot them. So seeing this little character darting about its enclosure and getting up close to the glass because of its curiousity was really excellent.
Dublin Zoo has worked hard to maintain excellent standards of habitat for their animals, and some of the conservation work/presentations were really very good. They are constantly looking for ways to improve and keep people coming back to help support them.
Everybody will have their own personal favourites and young or old Dublin Zoo is a great place to visit. You will not be short of places to stop and get a drink or bite to eat either.There are several cafes and kiosk around the zoo serving delicious sandwiches, hot coffee, pizza, ice cream but on our visit we decided due to the weather to try the Meerkat Restaurant. They serve a range of food to suit every taste and while you sit there the Meerkats watch your every move, very entertaining. Simples!!!
Worth a return visit, next time I'm in Dublin!!
I have been riding snowboards for several years and I'm no expert, but I do like to be comfortable. Having good fitting snowboard boots is essential, as you are wearing them for long periods they need to be comfortable and they must be able to suit your riding style/needs (whether you want to cruise down the slopes or try jumps/tricks).
My first pair of boarding boots were a pair of Vans 'Re-Entry' boots with a triple lacing system. The boots were great for me learning, the downside was the time it took to get ready in the morning and if you over tightened them you end up with pain almost everywhere from the back of your legs, to your toes and bridge of foot. This meant having to loosen and re-do on the slope, not ideal in normal conditions but even worse in blizzard conditions. I did get used to them and they ended up great to ride in and I have been known to still use them at the indoor slope/dry slopes here.
My partner had invested in a pair of DC 'Boa' technology boots a couple of seasons back and last year I was in Andorra I tried on the Vans 'Cirro' this has a 'dual boa technology' closure system. What this means is rather than having normal laces the boot is closed by tightening dials to control a mechanical cable system around the liner of the boot. The 'Cirro' has 2 for complete control of upper and lower of the boot. The boots were comfortable walking around the shop, but I was not 100% convinced, as I thought they be a bit to stiff for my riding style.
Now at the end of the season I was in my local board shop to spy any bargains in the sale and I spotted a pair of Vans 'Encore' boots. They were my size and sported a very cool red rising-sun design on a black & white boot, I had to give them a try. The difference to the 'Cirro' is the 'Encore' only have a single dial to close the cables round the liner. I knew that Vans had been producing this boot for about 6 seasons and it has been very popular with riders, being one of their best sellers. Comparing them to the 'Cirro' boots I found them a little bit less constrictive, more flex therefore a little bit more forgiving for my control on the slopes. I picked them up at the bargain price of £90 instead of the usual £140, next bit was to see how they would perform on the slope.
Before I tried them out on my board, I wanted to wear them in a bit, so I was wearing them at home. The liner is a 'Trifit Aysm-X Thermal Liner', sounds complicated but all it means is the liner is a customisable heat mouldable liner to get the best fit around your foot and leg in the boot. This teamed up with Aysm-X heel hold technology and comfort flex means you have a really comfortable top end boot at a decent price.
With the recent snowfall we had in the North East I didn't have to travel to far to give the boots a go on my board. I have a decent enough slope at the end of my street, and there was plenty of the white stuff to keep me happily boarding for a while. The walk down was really comfortable, normally with my lace up boots I just wait until I'm back at the hotel or sitting in the bar before I loosen the laces, but the 'Boa' all I did was pull the dial forward and leaned/flexed my leg to slacken off the cables, pushed the dial back and it was liking walking in my trainers. On the board I found the response between my actions and transfer to my board edges to be very good. The 'Boa' system works very well as the tension is uniform around the foot, giving a better fit for longer riding and improved control. I had no heel lift at all when completing turns and putting my weight onto my toe edges.
I highly recommend anybody starting out in snowboarding or who has never tried them before to definately give them a go. My boots will be well worn in before my honeymoon to Whistler, Canada in January 2011.
If you need advice before purchasing your boots or just checking out deals, speak to a member of staff in your local board shop or try 'the snowboard asylum'!!!
New Vanslite Snowaffle Sole
-Trimfit Asym-X thematic liner
-Vans H2 BOA Coiler Closure system
-3D molded tongue
-Internal web harness
Walkabout - a National chain of Oz themed bars. They are a cheap and cheerful alternative to Wetherspoons and really good venues for watching live sport, or enjoying a lively night at one of the themed nights. All of the Walkabout bars that I have been to have always been busy, usually a student crowd. This is partly to the drinks promotions and the 'Boomerang' card (keeps them coming back, sorry :-) couldn't resist!!). The card has recently been relaunched and costs £3.00 and offers the holder 25% off food and drinks. However if you use the card in Glasgow it only covers soft drinks, possibly due to local licensing laws.
The food in Walkabout is typical bar fayre including handmade burgers, made with 100% beef, lamb, chicken and veggie options and served with chips, beer-battered chips and salad. The thing that makes the menu stand out and really makes it Australian is the option of Kangaroo. This appears on the menu as a lean fillet or as a burger. Its described as an alternative to red meat and helps with reducing cholesterol. I've only manged to have this once as every other time it has been sold out, so must be popular. I found my kangaoo fillet very tasty, along with tomato chutney. Also if you do manage to get it, it is meant to be pink so don't send it back thinking it's undercooked. If you want to try something else exotic then you can also try Springbok.
The majority of Walkabout bar's are old cinemas and even newer bar's follow the same layout of bigger bar, smaller bar(s), dancefloor and stage area. They all have large screen and several smaller screens around the bar. The decor is basic with wooden floors and the Australian theme throughout.
The bars can be hired out for stag/hen nights, party and functions, details can be found on website or in the venue.
With the size and layout, and big huge screens; Walkabout is a great place to watch live sport, typically Rugby Union, Rugby League, Boxing, Cricket & Football. This combined with drinks promotions they do get very busy, so if you are wanting a seat my advise is get there early!!
Each Walkabout bar offers several different nights and they advertise them locally. These include Karaoke, Poker Nights where you are invited to play Texas Hold'Em with chance to win upto £50. Whilst visiting Glasgow recently we did enjoy the Tuesday night playing Guitar Hero on the big screen, absolutely hilarious. We followed this up on the Thursday with the Walkabout Cocktail Society. It's worth checking your local venue for upcoming events/celebrity appearances, or have a look at the website.
I've found the majority of the staff really efficient and quite entertaining, always up for a laugh and good banter. I think a lot of them were students and a few had been Australian or New Zealanders which added to the theme.
These vary slightly from place to place but usually open from about 11am to 2-3am
I live in Newcastle and my nearest Walkabout used to be in Durham, I went to this one at the weekend a while back and was dissappointed with standards as it was not what I had previously experienced at other venues. Walkabout Durham has since closed and I can't say I was surprised to hear it.
I've visits a few Walkabout bars and I can recommend the following:
Carlisle - Unit 6, English Gate Plaza, Botchergate, Carlisle CA1 1RP
Cardiff - 65-74, St.Mary Street, Cardiff CF10 1FA
Glasgow - 128 Renfield Street, Glasgow G2 3AL
I would welcome any comments about your local Walkabout, and if you haven't been and you want a cheap and cheery night then it's worth a visit. Check out the website (www.walkabout.eu.com) for you local venue and offers. Enjoy.
My first experience of Tony Roma's was about 10 years ago on a lads holiday in Benidorm. Unfortunately as is always the way, we didn't stumble on this place until about 3 days before we were due to go home. We had such a great time, we planned to make this part of our final night. The Gods were against us as we walked round the corner and found it closed due to a power cut!! On our return we tried to see if we had one close to home. We checked the internet and no joy, not one in the UK.
We did find a bit of history the first Tony Roma's was opened in 1972 in North Miami. One weekend Tony decided to do Baby Back Ribs on the grill with a secret BBQ sauce, the rest is history. They became so popular that even Dallas Cowboy owner Clint Murchison Jnr, always used to stop in when he was in Miami. He liked them so much he bought the concept and started building Tony Roma's in Texas, California, New York, Hawaii & Tokyo. Now they are on 5 continents and 260 locations. They have won countless awards for their ribs and signature sauces.
Now, I had always mentioned Tony Roma's when I had ribs somewhere and claimed they weren't as good as I had eaten in Spain. I entered Xscape Braehead and couldn't believe my eyes, there in the corner Tony Roma's.
My girlfriend and I took a seat in our booth. The decor was to be expected of any American diner, classic wooden interior and comfortable seating. The service was very efficient and polite, we had a drink while we studied the menu, even though I had already decided I was having the signature 'World Famous Original Baby Back Ribs'. Claire decided to go for the Crispy Onion Burger.
Our meals came out and the presentation was good, all side items were in individual dishes. My Original Baby Back Ribs were awesome, tender, juicy full of flavour and the meat just dropped of the bone so I could use a knife and fork and keep my fingers sauce free. The burger that Claire had ordered was quite large and grilled to perfection, she got French fries, lettuce, tomato slices, red onion rings, and a pickle along with fried onion rings and cheese already on top of her burger. It was just as well we weren't in a hurry to go anywhere so we didn't give ourselves indigestion.
I finished my ribs and the waitress asked me if I wanted some more and I told me because it was Monday night, the offer was 'Endless Ribs' so I could get some more and share them with my girlfriend if I couldn't manage them on my own. This sounded like a challenge to me and I agreed, and ended up eating two thirds and Claire had the rest. the waitress returned and asked if we wanted the dessert menu. I had to laugh and say, just the bill and a really long walk.
Tony Roma's is a great place to go as you have such a large choice on the menu: Ribs, Burgers, Steaks, Chicken, Seafood, Combos & Desserts.
They also have some great deals right through the week, mostly after 5pm:
Monday - endless slab of Baby Back Ribs for £15.50
Tuesday - Steak Night up to 30% off menu price
Wednesday - Family Night -Kids eat Free (12 & under) when a main meal is purchased
Thursday - 2 courses for £9.50
Lunch (12-5pm) Main Course £5.95, 2 Course £8.95, 3 Course £11.95
Tony Roma's Glasgow well worth a visit as it is only 1 of 4 in the whole of the UK. Check out the website www.tonyromas.com or www.tonyromas.co.uk
Kings Inch Road
Tel: 0141 8868630
Xscape have sites at Milton Keynes and my nearest one Castleford, Leeds (already reviewed) but I've also been to Braehead, Glasgow while visiting relatives, it is approximately 3 hours drive from my home in Newcastle.
Kings Inch Road
Xscape Braehead is located behind Braehead Shopping Centre near to Junction 26 on the M8 heading East out of Glasgow City Centre. Built by XLeisure, it is dominated like all their centres by Sno!Zone, an indoor snow slope for skiing and snowboarding.
My girlfriend and I had been regular visitors to Xscape at Castleford to use the snow slope, so we were really pleased to hear that XLeisure had planned to build on a site in Glasgow. Like Castleford and Milton Keynes Xscape Braehead offers a lot more than just the the snow slope in the complex but also includes rock climbing, aerial assault, Odeon cinema, ten-pin bowling, laserzone, dodgems, gym, Paradise Island golf, shops, bars and restaurants. Braehead also has some dfferences to Castleford, not just layout but also some attractions most notaby Robocoaster, then Fan Drop and Kevin Keegans Soccer Circus. We ended up going for the weekend and booked into the nearby Travelodge that is located about 5 minutes walk from the entrance of Xscape.
Sno!Zone is pretty much the same setup in Braehead as it is Castleford but with some improvements. The layout at booking office is better and there is less congestion with people congregating for equipment, waiting for lessons etc. The slope is 200m long with 2 drag lifts, a sledging area and a nursery slope with rope tows for lessons and begineers. However it feels wider due there not being a bottleneck with ropes/barriers which I've experienced at Castleford. To use the main slope you must be competent enough to be able to control speed, link turns and use the drag lift (poma). If you need to book lessons the staff on site are excellent and the lesson my girlfriend Claire took was for an intermediate level to help improve her turns. Her instructor (also called Claire) was excellent and gave some great tips. We have been several times and usually try go for the 'Fresh Tracks' in the morning on a weekday when I get time off work as it is a good deal and the slope is also quiet. I have been on recently and we were the only 2 people on for 2 hours. You will need to keep checking on the website for updated prices and availability as the slope does get used for various skiing and snowboarding competitions throughout the year and the slope does get set up with jumps for this. Normally only a single drag lift operating unless the slope gets busy, also they can be fairly slow taking about 3 minutes for you to reach the top of the slope, need to be careful here as there is usually an icy patch just after you let go of the lift and you need to keep your wits about you. For a beginner or intermediate the slope is great for getting some practise, but an advanced skieer or snowboarder may find the slope limiting and a bit tedious after a short while.
After being on the slope you can go to the SnoBar which has improved views on to the slope compare to Castleford, due to full height windows. This means no big groups crowding at the windows. The bar is smaller but still has the alpine feel and you can have a drink and bite to eat from 9am-9pm. Being smaller in size means you have a more cosy Apres Ski/Board feel about the place, another winner is the access out to the huge decking which is located above the 1st chair lift. This gives people the chance to experience the cold of the slope and look up the slope and nursery slope, great for photo/video oppotunities.
I thoroughly recommend Sno!Zone even though it is a bit expensive.
As you walk into Xscape you encounter Robocoaster (the only one in the UK), which is basically a rollercoaster pair of seats attached to the end of a robotic arm. Now I love rollercoasters and couldn't wait to give it a go. I didn't think I would get the same buzz that you get from riding a regular coaster, and you don't. The experience is something different, the reason being you don't have a track infront of you as a point of reference to give you an indication of your next direction. To give you an idea check out YouTube, type in Robocoaster.
I haven't been on here as yet (don't know how I missed it), but I spotted it on the website. Part of the ClimbZone, its the first of its kind in the world. Twin fan descenders are used to help you freefall 15m, you are clipped in and just jump. You freefall most of the way before the fans start to gradually slow you down until you reach the ground. This reminds me of a bit of lit stuntmen use for doing freefall stunts, so I can't wait for my next visit. Who needs Jack Osbourne Adrenalin Junkie, go out and do it yourself!!
Kevin Keegans Soccer Circus????
The Xscape website describes this as 'world's first fully interactive football attraction for you and your family'.
I didn't see anybody going in and didn't go in myself, but if I do give it a go on my next visit I will update my review, but welcome any comments from anybody that has been in already. Is it worth £7.50 adult, £6.00 children.
Same as Xscape Castleford, Braehead has several shops aimed at extreme sports and outdoor activities but not as many as more space has been given over to restaurants:
The Snowboard Asylum, Trespass, Gravity, ARK, Blue Salamander, Evans Cycles, Librance, Ellis Brigham
Located next to Xscape is Braehead Shopping Centre with a big range of over 100 high street outlets www.braehead.co.uk
Food & Drink
There are several places to grab a snack, a drink or a meal. These include; drink/fast food places Burger King, O'Briens, Costa Coffee; some well known high street restaurants Nandos, Chiquitos, Pizza Express, TGI Fridays, Frankie & Bennys, Pizza Hut, Ma Potters, Wetherspoons/Lloyds Bar and also Fujimama, China Buffet King, Bella Italia and the awesome Tony Roma's (Ribs, seafood & steak) . Now I've been to a few of these but not all, the choice is really good not just for taste Spanish, American, Portugese, Italian and English but also for peoples budgets.
I really think Xscape is a great place for all the members of the family. Even though over the course of a day it can be quite expensive it is worth return visits, great all year but especially during the bad weather of the winter months. I wish that we had one of our own in Newcastle. We don't have an indoor slope and I know if it was on my doorstep I'm positive I would get an annual pass for the snow slope.
Now this is where Xscape Braehead really scores, it is ideally located for some many other things that people can spend a great deal of time of here. We tend to do a long weekend, get there Friday night and go back Monday. You have Braehead Arena (www.braehead-arena.co.uk) located in the Braehead Shopping Centre, plenty of public transport to get into the City Centre (with all of its great places to visit), if you are not 100% about the one way system. The bus takes you past the Glasgow Science Centre, with the huge IMAX screen, worth a visit for the 3D experience on a screen the size of a 5-a-side football pitch.
Now that I've been to both Castleford and Braehead I have to say I would travel further to go to Braehead, as because of its location it can offer so much more.
Summary: The greatest Xscape!!
Two things that I like Samsung and photography, combine the two and I know I'll be onto a winner. The Samsung NV10 was the first Samsung digital camera that I bought having been using a Samsung Slim Zoom 1150 38mm camera for many happy years.
Samsung had launced the NV series with small compact, sleek black aluminium designs. I had looked at the Canon Ixus but decided to stay loyal and opted for the NV10. It features a 10.1 megapixel, with 3x optical zoom, 5x digital zoom, the main difference was the Smart Touch interface which uses 7 buttons underneath and 6 buttons up the right hand side of the 2.5 inch LCD screen. On the screen next to each symbol denoting the function, on pressing the button along the bottom it will bring up available options chosen by the vertical buttons; example pushing flash, will bring up flash, red-eye and off. This doesn't sound that simple, but really once you have picked it up and started using the camera it becomes second nature for adjusting settings. Other functions of the camera are chosen by the simple dial on the top next to power button. The dial lets you choose Auto, Photo Gallery, Movie, Scene (for choosing setting for conditions like night, landscape,beach/snow, dawn, sunset, fireworks etc, Effect (set your colour tints or use a photo frame template), ASR (Advanced Shake Reduction), Manual and Program. The lens is a good quality Schneider-Kreuznach with a built in sheild and motorized drive operated by a thumb lever on back of camera. No need for a viewfinder as framing is done by using the LCD screen.
The built in memory is 20Mb, but the SD card slot provides plenty of expansion options. The bundled software and simple USB plug in download is great and works with all Microsoft Windows/Vista and Apple Mac operating systems.
The battery life is very good and is only really drained by use of the video and playback. My only criticism was the flash, on the NV10 is a flip up design. After a time the pin had damaged so it was in a constantly upright position. This was probably my own fault because I never bought a case for it until I had already used and abused the camera for a couple of years.
The picture quality is excellent, even just reviewing on the LCD screen they look good and you can scroll through them by running your finger over the buttons under the LCD screen. The pictures I have taken have come out really well including night shots, in snow and long distance. Video playback is also good and once uploaded you realise how good the sound quality is as well, in terms of being from such a small microphone and due to its position you need to be careful you don't block it or interfere with the sound.
Overall a great little camera, fantastic point and shoot but with options there if you want to try effects etc. This was the first in a wave of great Samsung cameras and you can pick one up on Amazon for £250, but shop around for the best deal because I paid about £200 for mine back in 2006.
Xscape have sites at Milton Keynes and Braehead, Glasgow but my nearest one is Castleford, Leeds approximately 1 1/2 hours drive from Newcastle.
Xscape Castleford opened in October 2003 and is located at Junction 32 on the M62 near to Leeds. Built by XLeisure to develop an old colliery site, it is dominated like all their centres by Sno!Zone, an indoor snow slope for skiing and snowboarding.
This was the main reason for my initial visit as I wanted to get some practice for my girlfriend and I before I took her for her first snow holiday, but Xscape offers a lot more than just this as the 430,000 square feet complex also includes rock climbing, aerial assault, Subvert skate park, Cineworld cinema, ten-pin bowling, laserzone, dodgems, gym, cosmic golf, soft play, shops, bars and restaurants. We ended up going for the weekend and booked into the Premier Travel Inn that is located across the road from the centre.
The slope is 200m long with 2 drag lifts, a sledging area and a nursery slope with rope tows for lessons and begineers. To use the main slope you must be competent enough to be able to control speed, link turns and use the drag lift (poma). If you need to book lessons the staff on site are excellent and the lessons my girlfriend took were very helpful to her. We have been several times and usually go for the 'Fresh Tracks' in the morning on a weekday when I get time off work as it is a good deal and the slope is also quiet. You will need to keep checking on the website for updated prices and availability as the slope does get used for various skiing and snowboarding competitions throughout the year and the slope does get set up with jumps for this. Normally only a single drag lift operating unless the slope gets busy, also they can be fairly slow taking about 3 minutes for you to reach the top of the slope, need to be careful here as there is usually an icy patch just after you let go of the lift and you need to keep your wits about you. For a beginner or intermediate the slope is great for getting some practise, but an advanced skieer or snowboarder may find the slope limiting and a bit tedious after a short while.
After being on the slope you can go to the SnoBar which has views on to the slope. the bar has an alpine feel and you can have a drink and bite to eat from 9am-9pm.
I thoroughly recommend Sno!Zone even though it is a bit expensive.
As you walk into Xscape the 2 climbing walls dominate the entrance. You go up the escalator and turn right to find the booking desk. I tried the 3 week Adult Start Up Course to learn the basics, how to harness up, how to belay, and various climbing techniques. This cost me £60 and runs on Monday nights from 6.15pm - 8pm. Thereafter you can get a 25 minute session at peak time for £8
Skyride is also great fun, an obstacle course set 15m above the main entrance. It was the first of its kind in the UK and anybody can have a go from the age of 6+. You have 2 safety lines and you just follow the metal tracking and complete the wooden and rope obstacles along the ceiling. You get an excellent view and its quite exciting, especially as I don't like heights that much. It costs £8 for a one lap session.
Subvert Skate Park
I haven't been on here as yet, but had a look and it does look good. You can pay for 2 hours, 4 hours or all day, and get a discount if you become a member. Membership costs £25 and you get a t-shirt, 10% discount vouchers and cheaper rates, you get all day riding for £10 or £12 if you are a non-member
Cineworld on the first floor has 14 screens, great screens and sound. The seat are really comfortable and you can get some real bargains depending when you go. Normally an adult ticket costs £6.30, adult before 5pm is £5.30, student/seniors £4.70, children (14 and under) £4.90, Premium seats are £8.50
Monday Classics - enjoy a classic film every Monday with coffee and biscuits for only £2.50
Bargain Tuesdays - enjoy any movie for only £4.40 or £6.50 for VIP bargain seats!
Movie Club for Juniors - enjoy a movie and games for only £1 every Saturday morning
In the centre itself you have several shops aimed at extreme sports and outdoor activities:
Subvert Board Store, Trespass, Surfanic, Land Rover, ARK, Adrenalin Junkie, Evans Cycles, Extreme Eyewear, Ellis Brigham
Located next to Xscape is also an outlet shopping centre 'Junction 32' with a big range of outlets www.junction32.com
Food & Drink
There are several places to grab a snack, a drink or a meal. These include; drink/fast food places Burger King, Subway, Starbucks; some well known high street restaurants Nandos, Chiquitos, Pizza Express, Frankie & Bennys, Wetherspoons/Lloyds Bar and also Fusion, Bella Italia, The Loft, Glassroom, Rockies Bar, Flaming Dragon. Now I've been to a few of these but not all, the choice is really good not just for taste Spanish, American, Portugese, Italian and English but also for peoples budgets.
I really think Xscape is a great place for all the members of the family. Even though over the course of a day it can be quite expensive it is worth return visits, great all year but especially during the bad weather of the winter months. I wish that we had one of our own in Newcastle. We don't have an indoor slope and I know if it was on my doorstep I'm positive I would get an annual pass for the snow slope.
New York City and there is a killer on the streets. He is attacking ordinary innocent people and the inhabitants of the City don't know who to turn to, or trust because the killer is dressed as a cop. Detective Frank McCrae (Tom Atkins) is investigating the murders and believes it's not just somebody wearing a uniform but a member of the force, New Yorks finest. McCraes theory seems confirmed when the latest victim is found, and her diary implicates her husband Officer Jack Forrest (Bruce Campbell) of being the maniac cop. As he fights to clear his name, with the help of McCrae they stumble across a cover up of corruption involving the Police Commissioner and the New York City Mayor. They had set up a police officer, Matt Cordell (Robert Z'Dar). He was a brutal cop but not corrupt, he was sent to prison. Whilst in prison he was savagely attacked and left for dead, his face, body and hands badly slashed. The prison doctor realised that he could not survive another attack and with the help of Cordell's girlfriend Sally Noland (Sheree North), they get him out of prison. Now Cordell is out for revenge on those who set him up and nothing will stop him from doing this.
I originally had this on VHS, it was made back in 1988. I recently saw it for sale on dvd and had to get it. Watching it now it seems dated but it is still a good horror-thriller. The film is written and produced by Larry Cohen, who also wrote Phone Booth, and is directed by William Lustig, nephew to Jake LaMotta. Jake and Sam Raimi both make cameo appearances in the film. The cast includes Tom Atkins a horror veteran who was most recently seen in My Bloody Valentine 3D, Bruce Campbell; Sam Raimi regular, Robert Z'Dar arguably one of the most distinctive faces ever on screen and I remember him from Tango & Cash.
The opening titles are good, a close up shots of police officer putting on uniform, I think this influenced a sequence in Jamie Lee Curtis film Blue Steel, directed by Kathryn Bigelow in 1990. Also a great sequence in the film is Matt Cordells flashback to his attack in the prison, really well shot and explains so much with no dialogue; reminded me of a John Woo sequence.
Maniac Cop is dated but has a charm to it because of the 1980s. The big hair, big shoulder pads, big mullets and the soundtrack created with 1980s New Wave favourite the synthesizer; which probably ended up being used in majority of 80s films are all present.
The film does well to maintain a tension throughout the film by not letting the audience see Cordells face but instead seeing the victims reaction. Cordell reminded me of unstoppable Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th.
The reveal at the end, is a laugh out loud momement because the make up is not great, but overall I really enjoyed this film including dodgy acting, dodgy dialogue it is still a cool film to have. It also spawned 2 sequels, and the make up did get better!! Maniac Cop is not to be missed
Tag Line: 'You Have The Right To Remain Silent...Forever!'
Tom Atkins - Detective Frank McCrae
Bruce Campbell - Office Jack Forrest
LauRene Landon - Theresa Mallory
Richard Roundtree - Police Commissioner Pike
William Smith - Captain Ripley
Robert Z'Dar - Matt Cordell (aka Maniac Cop)
Shree North - Sally Noland
Running Time: 90 minutes
The dvd extras was a little disappointing no subtitles, no other languages, no extras like interviews the only additions were 4 trailers including Maniac Cop, Red Scorpion, Basket Case 2 and Frankenhooker.
I received my Panasonic LS83 portable dvd player as a Christmas present from my parents. I had suggested a player so my partner and I could use it to entertain ourselves and kill some time at airports, train stations and long transfers on coaches, trains etc. It can be fitted onto the head rest of a car as the mount comes supplied with the player.
I was pleased to see they had gone for the Panasonic because of their reputation for quality and innovation.
After opening the box I inserted the Lithium 7.2v rechargeable battery into the player, connected the AC lead. I left the player on charge for a while (usually 5 hours), and had a closer read of the instructions, including the technical details.
The player was capable of playing several types of discs including DVDs, CDs, DVD-RW, DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD+RW, DVD-RAM, J-PEG, DivX and formats NTSC and PAL. The screen is a 8.5" diagonal LCD screen and has the ability to pivot so you can get the best position to view the screen.
The controls are simple push buttons and have the same features as you find on any full size dvd player including; play, fast forward, reverse, skip, stop, pause, menu, cursor, repeat and return. The volume controls are on the side along with dual headphone and AV sockets. This means they are accessible when the screen opened flat like a tablet player, but the main buttons are obscured. The player is a comfortable size for transporting in a bag, as it folds flat and is roughly the size of a netbook and weighs approximately 1kg (including battery).
My partner Claire & I took the player with us on holiday to Italy in January, the coach transfer was 3 hours and we played a dvd, the winter sun was quite strong but it was a simple task to adjust the brightness/contrast using the onscreen menu. It was a chance to try the dual headphone sockets so we didn't disturb any other passengers. The quality was very good, this was a little surprising as I found the built in speakers slightly tinny when the volume was turned up past mid-range.
The player also has an easy to fit car mount for head rests and AC adaptor for in car charging.
Overall I have been very happy with the Panasonic LS83, the quality of picture and sound is excellent, operation is simple and the features are excellent for such a compact player. I would recommend this model or any of the subsequent newer models. There are cheaper portable players available but I do not believe they will be able to compete with the quaility of the Panasonic LS83.
I purchased my Slam Man approximately 8 years ago. I was a regular at the gym but wanted something at home as well. I didn't just want to get an exercise bike, rowing machine or treadmill (they always end up a cluttered clothes horses), but something a bit different and I found the Slam Man. I had spotted it on MTV on an episode of Cribs, unbelievably it was the Prince of Darkness himself, Ozzy Osbourne puching one in his gym with Britney :-) written on its forehead. I browsed the internet and found it advertised with www.boysstuff.co.uk for £299. My friend just bought one from Argos for £250
When he arrived it was a simple set up with the instructions and video. The base which needs filled with 100kg approximately of dry sand (4 bags from any diy store or merchant). The top is two-tone, black and blue. The blue is a soft moulded body with 8 lights and the programmer. The two halves are fitted together and the unit stands approximately 6 feet tall and has 2 further height adjustments available.
The programmer sets the sequences for the training programmes, 15 running from beginner to expert. Each programme determines the length of workout, how long each light is lit for, how much amount of power in each punch needs to be used to put the light out. So after set up it just a case of putting on the 120z gloves (included) and get punching.
Sometimes I don't always use the light sequences and just use the Slam Man as a stress reliver after a hard day at work or something just annoyed me.
The training programmes have a great ability to improve hand-eye coordiantion, reflexes and the cardio workout benefits core and upper body strength. These are really great advantages but it does have some disadvantages, even with all the weight in the base I have noticed that it will move and I sometimes have to stop mid-workout to move it back to where I started. This alone can also be a workout due to the weight :-).
If I was asked for anyway to improve the Slam Man for future next generation then I would say lack of movement is a factor. I've used conventional punchbags and a lot of the workout is footwork, keep moving left-right. So if they increased the weight in the base to stop the slide, and if they could make the top oscillate, similar to a desk fan. This operation combined with the light sequences would give an exceptional workout.
Overall, its a great bit of equipment and I would recommend it to anybody wishing to get fit, lose a few pounds, and just getting the satisfaction when hitting it. 10/10
I've been wearing glasses for 15 years. Intially it was purely for work, using the computer etc, but over time I ended up wearing them everyday. I had never considered wearing lenses as the thought of putting anything into my eye really put me off. Also laser treatment hadn't been recommended by my optician before. However after a holiday earlier this year, snowboarding in Italy, I damaged my prescription goggles. My prescription wasn't that strong (-1.00 & -1.50)but all the lettering was blurry. When I got back I decided to speak to my optician.
I explained that I was looking to get some contact lenses, but I was only wanting them for sport and some social occasions. They explained that I would need a specific eye test, then a 10 day trial. After my test, the optician explained that I had a slight stigmatism in my right eye which would mean I would needa hard lense to keep perfect vision like I would have with my glasses. As I was only using them occassionaly I said I would trial the soft lenses.
The optician recommended the Johnson & Johnson 1-Day Acuvue Moist for my needs. They are daily disposable soft lenses, which means no need for cleaning solutions, if you lose a lense then it's no hardship to replace. Each box contains 30 lenses, and each lense is individually packaged in its own tray with saline solution. The lenses are shaped so it is easier to tell when you have them the correct way round, they also have UV blocking.
After the 10 day trial, I decided to carry on with using the lenses. I had found that at first I still had an issue about putting the lenses into my eye, because they are very thin and quite delicate. Sometimes it took me a few attempts and I did damge some which had to be binned. After some practise the number of attempts became fewer and fewer. The lenses themselves are really comfortable to wear and sometimes I forget that they are in. Later in the day after I may have been wearing the lenses for about 7-8 hours that I start to feel irritation in my eyes and a bit of redness and I need to remove my lenses. This is more than enough time for me.
The process for getting your lenses is really simple. I currently pay £13 per month, by direct debit, and every 3 months I get my supply of contact lenses through the post. I've been wearing them now for the past 9 months and as I'm only wearing them occassionaly means I have built up quite a supply. This is not a problem, all I had to do was pop into the optician and they rang up and had them defered for 6 months. It really is such a simple process.
I would really recommend people to try these if they have doubts like myself in the past. Being able to use the Johnson & Johnson 1-Day Acuvue Moist contact lenses means I've been able to enjoy more sport and social occassions, but it has also meant that I've had a larger choice of leisure eyewear in terms of sunglasses and goggles rather than getting prescription models. The lenses are expensive but this is matched by ease of use and how comfortable they are.