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I stayed here for 1 night only as I was going to a concert in London and it was too late for the last train back. I booked the hotel through priceline.com, so I didn't choose the Marriott Kensington by name, but i did specifically want a hotel in Kensington and got the room for the bargain price of £65 (excluding breakfast). The location is great, as it is just a 5 minute walk from Gloucester Road tube station (which is on the circle and district line and the piccadilly line also stops there late at night). At the tube station there is also a waitrose, boots and a couple of restaurants (ASK, Nando's and Garfunkels) and there is a large sainsbury's super market just opposite in case you have forgotten anything. It is not right in the centre of town, but that does mean it is quiet at night time so suited me fine. The hotel itself is just about a 4 star standard in my opinion - the room was good sized, nicely decorated and very clean with comfy bed. The en suite was again clean and pleasant and there was a tray of toiletries. Guests also have use of a small swimming pool, sauna and steam room and although all of these were clean and looked after, they are probably due a refurb. For the price I paid I was delighted with this hotel, but if I had paid £130 I might not have thought I had such a good deal as I wouldn't describe it as luxury.
I got a nintendo DS because I wanted to get brain training - I woudn't say i am particularly into computer games as such, but I decided to get this 'game' because I love reading and also travel quite a lot on trains for work, so I thought having 100 books in one little gadget was bound to come in handy! And how right I was... The functionality of the ds when used as a 'reader' is very simple, you just turn it sideways and use it like a book. You can use the pointer to turn pages or you can confogure it to use almost any of the keys. Finding books is easy with a virtual book shelf and a little quiz to help you decide what to read if you can't choose. The text size is fine for me but it may be a little small for some. The price is fantastic when you add up how much it would cost you to buy each of the books separately, but i wish there was another cartridge for more choice. Overall, this is fantastic value and very easy to use but probably only for book worms as it is not really a game!
I am a fairly recent convert to buying these big pots of yoghurt - not so portable but much cheaper and you can have as much or as little as you want and just put the lid back on when you've had enough! I like other Yeo Valley products (their lower fat Creme Fraiche is great) so I gave this vanilla fat free yoghurt a try, and I am hooked. I tend to buy a large pot from the supermarket on a monday and leave it in the fridge at work, then when I get the munchies at my desk or need to stretch my legs, I nip to the kitchen for a bit of this rather than the snack machine! The flavour is great, and it is thick and creamy, unlike some other low fat yoghurts which can be a bit watery or bland. You can actually see the little black flecks of vanilla. It also has 'healthy bacteria' in it, so should be good for your digestive system as well as low fat. the container is a thin plastic pot contained in a sturdy cardboard sleeve, meaning it is robust but mostly recyclable as you can peel off the cardboard sleeve easily.
I am a massive fan of Kate Atkinson and having read the first 2 Jackson Brodie novels, I was expecting great things from this. I was not disappointed. Jackson is an ex-police officer who turned private investigator and is a hackneyed, cynical but strangely likeable scottish chap who does not always have the best luck in life. He finds himself entangled (often against his will) in other peoples crimes and is usually suspected of some involvement so working against the police as well as trying to prove himelf innocent at the same time as solve the crime. It was ever thus in crime fiction, but what makes this book (and its predecessors) so enjoyable is Kate Atkinson's writing style. The narrative is converstaional and accessible while never being flippant or shallow, and always with great humour. I think you could read this book without having read the other 2, but why would you when they are all so good? I really hope she writes another, as I think there is so much mileage left in the characters. And if you enjoy this book, please also have a look af 'behind the scenes at the museum' by this author - it is not a crime novel but written with the same witty, observational narrative style.
I was a bit of a sceptic about these shoes, so i resisted getting a pair for a long time. My logic (odd I know) is that if everyone and his dog has a pair then they are probably just a bit of a fad and while they might be a 'must have' while they are in fashion, they probably won't be around for long! BUT - my other half got a pair and told me how comfortable and pracitcal they were, so I was persuaded to give them a go. And I can testify that they are very comfortable - they have a shaped instep so they support your arches and also a slightly textured sole that sort of massages your feet when you walk (very pleasant!) I probably wouldn't wear these in many public situations (probably doesn't help that mine are red!!) But they are very practical for: * camping - great for when you step in and out of the tent as they are slip on. Not so good if you are in a very wet and muddy field though becuase of the 'breathable' holes * going down the garden / allotment - you can just run them under a tap to get the mud off and slip them off on the way back into the house to avoid getting the hall / kitchen floor dirty! * flying - if your feet swell on a plane then crocs will remain very comfortable, and you can slip them off easily to do your in - flight exercises.
I am not normally a fan of crime writing, but I saw this was on the Richard and Judy book list I thought it was worth a shot, as when they include a 'genre' book it tends to be a bit more accessible. I haven't read anything else by this author so didn't know quite what to expect, but it had me chuckling from the first few pages. The plot isn't the most memorable thing about this book (although it is the usual twists and turns and red herrings and working out who the real baddies are...), but the characters are incredibly well rendered and very funny indeed. The main character is a crime bookshop owner, and the mysteries he solves are the customers of the private investigator who has mysteriously vanished himself. Actually now I come to think of it, he is never named (unless I missed it). 'He' is a massive bundle of neuroses and self loathing, but is very self aware for someone who is so, well... weird! So his observations on his own odd behaviour make this book all the more funny. There is a romance plot buried very deep (since the main character cannot recognise his heroine's Alison's advances with anything other then suspicion). I am sure if I was a crime reader i would get more out of this book as there must be lots of 'in-jokes' for fans of the genre, but this doesn't detract from my enjoyment.
This book is one of the sweetest, funniest, most touching books I have read for a long time. It is written in the form of letters between the main characters, which is a lovely writing style which allows you to get to know the main players as they get to know each other. The plot revolves around a group of residents on Guernsey, who form a 'literary society', initially as an excuse for a post-curfew meeting under the Nazi occupation of the island. Their reasons for continuing with the society are all different, but together they help eachother to maintain their sense of identity and belonging to a community at a time when the occupying forces seek to divide and conquer. The woman who discovers their story (through a strange coincidence with a second hand book) becomes more interested and entangled in their story as the novel progresses. This book reminds me of Cold Comfort Farm, I Capture the Castle and the Mitford sisters' books (love in a cold climate etc) but has an identity all of its own.
I began to read this book on the basis of its nominations for literary awards and the fact that I had read a couple of reviews about it. I didn't really know what to expect from the plot, but the publishers blurb had me intrigued so I gave it a try. The narrative jumps around between places and is non-sequencial (i.e. flashbacks) which some people might find offputting, but I think it gives the narrative more depth and keeps you gripped to find out what happens. The character of Little Bee, a young woman seeking refuge from a violent past in Nigeria, is richly rendered, and shares with you the full range of her emotions and experiences, and there are moments when events are distressing and upsetting. The family that she becomes entangled with (I won't spoil the plot by saying any more than that) are also deeply flawed but very believeable and the book was thought provoking and satisfying as a result.
I have been a customer of Barclays Bank since my college days 15 years ago when I was saving for uni and have stayed with them ever since. What I like about Barclays is that they are on every high street, and i have found the staff to be (mostly) very helpful in all the branches I have ever used. I also rate their online banking system very highly - some might find the chip and pin account verification system a bit of a pain, but i find it reassuring that no one can access my account online without my pin number. I can do most of my account management online which is great. On the down side, if you need to speak to someone face to face, they don't seem to have an appointment system, you just have to turn up and queue at 'reception' until someone is free, and it isn't very private. But on the whole I am happy with the current account service.