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    • More +
      07.04.2010 08:49
      Very helpful



      A great read.


      A sadistic serial killer is at large. His target prostitutes, despite a lengthy, police investigation, he remains at large. Detective Chief Inspector Langton (who leads the team), acceps a rookie into the team. Detective Constable Anna Travis, she is young, inexperienced and the daughter of the late Detective Chief Superintendent Jack Travis, Langton's one time mentor. Perhaps she can help, Its a risk taking her on, but one he is prepared to take.


      Below are my thoughts on the 3 main characters in the book.
      Detective Chief Inspector Langton
      A tough no nonsense man's man. He is straight talking but underneath there is a softer side. He is ruthless and determined, he lets nothing or no-one get in the way of the job.

      Detective Constable Anna Travis
      A graduate police officer, who is keen to suceed and step from the shadow of her late father. She is thoughful, resourceful and determined, yet she lacks self confidende and it still rather niave at times.
      Alan Daniels/Anthony Duffy
      Complicated, complimentary and charming. Nothing bothers him, supremely confident with a slight air of arrogance. La Plante has created a brilliant character.

      The Story

      Detective Chief Inspector Langton, is leading the hunt for a serial killer. The murders started eight years ago, the killers body count stands at six. All the killers victims were drug-users and prostitutes. Then a seventh body is found, the killers MO is the same - but the victim is not, she is a beautiful young student, not his usual type. It would seem he has changed his victim profile.

      DCS Langton recruits DC Anna Travis to the investigation, she is the daughter of his one time mentor Jack Travis. Anna is desperate to make her mark, she stumbles on a vital piece of information which links one man to the killings, actor Alan Daniels. Without enough evidence to justify his arrest and no matter how certain they are that Alan is the killer, the evidence is just circumstantial. Daniels takes a shine to Anna. DCS Langton suggests Travis take advantage of Daniel's interest hope to find the critical piece of evidence that will put him away. Using this Langton and Travis embark on a dangerous game. Alan Daniels is either a gentleman or a practiced sociopath. Daniels teases you right until the very end of the book, Travis is unsure if he really is capable of being the monster that the killer clearly is. Only time will tell.


      Probably the best know writer of police drama's. Lynda La Plante is world famous. Her books easily move from print and TV. She is an extremely gifted writer, especially within this genre. Teasing the plot and characters from the first page til the last. Her obvious depth of knowledge of police proceedures are clearly demonstrated in the book. She has a fantastic ability to keep you reading once you pick the book up.

      My Opinion

      I loved this book. I must admit that I saw the TV drama adaptation first. The book is fantastic, as is the TV programme. The characters are well thought, each is brought to life with a history. Langton ls gritty and determined, Travis has a gift for being a detective but she is niave. Daniels is charming and sofisticated an unfappable.
      La Plante is often brutal in her discripition of murders and pathology, this for me enhances the realism of the story. She is quite clearly knowledgeable about the subjest and this shines through in her writing.

      La Plante is a fantastic writer, her ability to deliver tension and suspense on each page is relentless.

      Critical Aclaim for Above Suspicion

      'Lynda La Plante practically invented the thriller. She is without a doubt one of the best writers working today. ABOVE SUSPICION blew me away - it grabs you and doesn't let go until the last page'

      Other Information

      Publisher: Simon&Schuster
      Book Type:Hardback
      Legnth: 392 Pages




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      • Tefal FV9430 / Iron / 90 Readings / 84 Ratings
        More +
        05.04.2010 20:23
        Very helpful
        1 Comment


        • Reliability


        A quality Iron.

        Well as my job demands that my uniform is " Smart as a carrot" I require a good quality iron. I have had used literally dozens of irons in my time in the forces, and as sad as it may seem I like to think I am quite clued up. Below are my thoughts on my recent purchase.

        Aesthetically Pleasing?

        Well yes. The iron has a good feel to it. The handle is very comfortable and just about the right width, giving a firm grip without discomfort. The iron is rather heavy, but for my general ironing this is fine. It looks pretty cool as well (if an iron can be cool), which in the forces is a must. I mean in a room full of men ironing, its difficult to look cool, so the cooler your iron (not ilterally) the better.

        Ironing Quality
        This is without doubt a quality iron. This is evident once you have ironed a wide range of clothes. It tackles all fabrics with ease. I mainly iron heavy duty uniform which can be difficult to iron for several reasons.

        Firstly, the thickness of the uniform. This is not a problem with this iron as it has an excellent steam capability. It easily penetrates through the cloth, ironing away all creases.
        Secondly, the uniform marking the iron. Basically when ironing combat trousers, they generally leave marks on the iron. The causes the iron to stick to the trousers, which makes the creases worse. This again is not a problem with this iron as the soleplate is high quality also, the autoclean system reduces this problem so its almost non existant. You can also lower the heat and the steam still penetrates the removing the creases.

        Self Cleaning
        Well, this is the main selling point of the Iron. It actually does work! The self cleaning soleplate allows the steam to flow evenly at all times, it also has catalytic properties which remove micro fibres that would normally stick to the iron. My area has very hard water, I have already gone through 2 irons in two years! Not anymore, this iron will not be beaten by lime....on any scale!


        Excellent steam and spray feature. This reduces the actual amount of ironing required for each garment.
        The iron glides easily accross all fabric that I have used it on at all temperatures. This agan reduces the actual amount of ironing required for each garment.
        The above 2 points actually help to reduce your energy bill! Oh and save the environment!

        I have only two minor criticism, this is that the water reservior is at the rear of the iron, this is really a pain. Where the filling point is at the rear there is a much greater chance of it leaking when ironing.
        I think that a lot would find it a little heavy, however for my uses this is fine.

        The Technical Stuff

        '*' Power (Watt) 2400
        '*'Steam flow rate (g/mn) 40
        '*'Reservoir capacity 350 ml
        '*'Type of soleplate Palladium autoclean soleplate
        '*'Vertical Steaming Yes
        '*'Pressing function (g/min) Information not provided
        '*'Adjustable thermostat Yes
        '*'Maintenance Anti-scale cartridge Information not provided
        '*'Anti-scale system Information not provided
        '*'Colours Blue and white
        '*'1.56kg empty
        '*'1.8kg when full
        '*'150g steam shot.
        '*' Safety cut out.

        I would highly reccomend this iron. Its a little expensive at around the £50-£60 mark, but you get what you pay for. Its a quality product that will easily reduce the effort required when ironing. It could also reduce your energy bill, as daft as that may sound. Some may find the iron a little heavy, personally I think this actually hepls when ironing. The only problem I have with the iron is the base filled water reservior, not really a good idea. Its not perfect but for me its not far off.

        Highly Reccomended.


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        • Life Is Beautiful (DVD) / DVD / 81 Readings / 75 Ratings
          More +
          05.04.2010 10:22
          Very helpful



          A must see film.


          This is a simple story... but not an easy one to tell.
          Life is Beautiful is set in Italy during World War II and centres around Guido (Roberto Benigni), a Jewish book keeper/waiter, Dora (Nicoltette Bruschi Benigni) an Italian School teacher and their son Giosué .

          The film is in Italian, but there are subtitles and if you prefer English dubbing. I watched the film with the English dubbing.
          Life is Beautiful is also known as La Vita E Bella.


          Set in late 1930s Arezzo, Italy, during World War II. Life is Beautiful tells the story of Guido Orefice (Roberto Benigni) and Dora (Nicoletta Braschi Benigni). Guido is a Jewish book keeper/waiter and Dora is an Italian schoolteacher, The film for me is is in 2 halves, the first is Guido's attempt to woo Dora. She is already engaged to another man. Undetered Guido seeks to charm his "Principessa" (Princess) and win her hand in marriage. To achieve this he uses a mixture of adult and rather childlike humour. He always seems to be in the right place at the right time, whether its to stop an out of control car or offer to suck the wasps venom from dora's leg after she has been stung.
          The second half of the film deals with the Holocust and their struggle to remain together and even alive. They now have a son Giosué, and for them Life is Beautiful until, Guido and his son are to be sent to a concentration camp. Guido and Giosué are on the train ready to leave as Dora (unable to stand being parted from her husband and child) demands to be sent to the camp also, a fate which she does not have to endure as she is not Jewish.
          To protect Giosué, from the horrors of life and death inside the camp Guido tells him "it is all a game" on their hoilday, and in order to win they must get a thousand points once they reach a thousand points they will get a real tank in which they can leave.
          Giosué later refuses to take a shower, and unknowingly escapes being gased. As Guido hides him with the help of other Italian prisoners. This as strange as it sound produces some brilliant comedy moments. The big question is can they all survive until the camp is liberated?

          I have not gone into huge detail as this would spoil the film for you

          Main Characters

          Guido Orefice (Roberto Benigni)
          Simply brilliant. He won the Best Actor award for this performance and quite rightly so. His comic timing is simply exceptional in every way. He delivers passion, humour and sorrow with ease. An outstanding actor.
          Dora (Nicoletta Braschi Benigni)
          From her surname you may have guessed that she is Roberto's real life wife. In the film there is obvious chemistry between them. She is delightful in her portrayal, charming, elegant and funny.

          My Opinion

          The opening of the film almost makes you forget the what the underlying message of the film is. However, for me that is the beauty of the film, simply to remind you that life is indeed beautiful. Roberto Benigni as both actor and director has worked magic in this film. It takes you through all the differing human emotions. His comic timing is simply brilliant. His natural desire to protect those around him he loves is very moving. He is ever the optomist but, this film gives you a optimism and pessimism in equal measures. His use of a game to protect his son from the daily horror of life in the concentration camp is both funny and tragic.
          His good nature and undying love is the perfect answer to the abject horror of the Holocust and indeed the second world war. This really is a fantastic story and film. I defy anyone not to be moved by this film. Simply fantastic.


          Without a doubt you should watch this film. Its simply brilliant.


          Roberto Benigni ... Guido Orefice
          Nicoletta Braschi ... Dora
          Giorgio Cantarini ... Giosué Orefice
          Giustino Durano ... Eliseo Orefice


          Oscar: Best Actor in a Leading Role - Roberto Benigni
          Oscar: Best Foreign Language Film
          Oscar : Best Music Original Dramatic Score - Nicola Piovani


          Director: Roberto Benigni
          Writers: Vincenzo Cerami & Roberto Benigni
          118 min (English dubbed version)
          Language: Italian, German & English


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          • Training Day (DVD) / DVD / 110 Readings / 102 Ratings
            More +
            02.04.2010 17:00
            Very helpful



            WATCH IT!!!

            Well I may as well start as I mean to go on regarding this film. Its BRILLIANT.

            ''''Basic Plot to Avoid Spoilers''''

            Denzel Washington plays a L.A.P.D detective Alonzo Harris. Alonzo is not your regular police officer. He is a narcotics officer, with his own crack unit who is a law unto himself.
            Ethan Hawke plays a rookie Jake Hoyt, Hoyt has 24 hours to convince Alonzo that he has what it takes to be a narc in his unit.
            Training day is the story of Hoyt's 24 hrs, his trails and ethical dilemas, his sense of right and wrong is shattered by the world he is introduced into by Alonzo. Both men have differing agendas for the 24 hrs. Hoyt wants to make a diiference on the streets, Alonzo wants to make money from the streets.

            Alonzo has got into serious trouble with a Russian mob, he killed on of their men and now he has to pay. The price for his life, one million dollars, to them by midnight.

            Standby for a fast paced ride!

            Firstly, both were nominated for Oscars. Washington as Best Actor and Hawke as Best Supporting Actor. This alone should tell you the quality of the film. The chemistry between both is evident from teh first time they are in shot together

            ''''Denzel Washington''''

            For me he is the best male actor out there at the moment. He truely is brilliant, and in particular in this film. He richly deserves his Best Actor award for this role.
            He delivers a performance that words can do justice to. He is tough, gritty, raw and passionate in his portrayal of Alonzo. The dialogue and his obvoius ad libs are outstanding, they really make the film. he is electrifying, you really are not sure if he is a cop or a gang member and come to think of it maybe he is not sure! He grabs you from the opening scene and refuses to let go of you until the final frame. It is a magnificent performance in everyway.

            ''''Ethan Hawke''''

            Nominated for Best Supporting Actor, which in my opinion he really should have won. Hawke is perfect playing the Rookie/stooge to Washington. Hawke delivers a great performance full of gusto, balls and passion. He is so convincing in his desperation to please, you can almost feel him reaching for the prize of being a Narc. He is totally convincing in his role a fantastic performance.

            I have listed the main charectors only.

            Denzel Washington ... Alonzo
            Ethan Hawke ... Jake
            Scott Glenn ... Roger
            Tom Berenger ... Stan Gursky
            Dr. Dre ... Paul
            Snoop Dogg ... Blue
            Macy Gray ... Sandman's Wife
            Charlotte Ayanna ... Lisa
            Eva Mendes ... Sara

            Amercian director Antoine Fuaqa, started out making started his career in music videos. He has made videos for the likes of Stevie Wonder and Toni Braxton. He has also directected the films King Arthur, Tears of the Sun. This is by far his best work. He has captured the entire atmosphere of the mean L.A. streets. The film is raw punchy and hard hitting.


            I am not really a fan of "Gansta Rap", it should really be called "Gansta Crap" but for this film its perfect.

            1. Diologue Intro
            2. Wolves - Krumbsnatcha Feat M.O.P
            3. Bounce, Rock, Golden State - Golden State Warriors Feat Xzbit
            4. #1 - Nelly
            5. F*** You - Pharoahe Monch
            6. Watch The Police - C-murder Feat. Trck Daddy
            7. Dirty Riders - The Lox
            8. Crooked Cops - Napalm
            9. American Dream - P.Diddy and David Bowie
            10. Greed - Cypress Heill Feat. Kokane
            11. Hot Pursuit - Snoop Dogg
            12. Guns And Roses - The Clipse Feat. The Neptunes
            13. The Squeeze - Gang Starr
            14. Let Us Go - King Jacob & Professor
            15. Training Day (In My Hood) - Roscoe
            16. Protect You Head - Soldier B
            17. Cops DR2 - Dr. Dre Feat. Erykah Badu 7 Commom
            18. Wolf Or Sheep (Film Score) - Denzel Dialogue into Mark Macina

            ===DVD Extras===
            DVD with subtitles in English, Spanish and French.
            Commentary with Antoine Fuaqa
            Additional Scenes
            2 Music Videos
            Behind the scenes footage
            Alternative ending
            Filmography featuring Denzel, Ethan and Tom Berenger.

            ===Other Information===

            Directed by- Antoine Fuaqa
            Written by- David Ayer
            Run Time- 120 Mins
            Release Date-2001
            Certificate- 18
            Website- http://trainingday.warnerbros.com


            Denzel Wahington delivers a a truely fantastic performance as a corrupt cop. He will do whatever it takes to get what he wants. Ethan Hawke is equally fanastic opposite washington. The on screen chemistry between them is so strong you can almost taste it. The entire film from start to finish is electrifying, a true gritty portrayal of life on the mean streets of LA. Brilliant.


            Yes. It really is that simple.


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            • More +
              28.03.2010 12:54
              Very helpful



              A must visit.


              Following on from my review of our Cruise and our visit to Pompeii, I will now review another of the places we visited on our Honeymoon. Athens and the Acropolis.
              We were extremely fortunate on our Honeymoon we had many stops around the Med which allowed us to visit many countries and attractions. One of the places we docked at was the port of Piraeus, Greece. Again my wife arranged a trip for us to visit one of the main attractions in Athens, The Acropolis.

              Below are my thoughts on our visit to The Acropolis.

              The Acropolis is situated pretty much in the centre of Athens. The Acropolis was the most important religious and political centre of Athens. Of the many Acropolis', this one is almost certainly the best known. It is a flat-topped rock that rises 490 ft above sea level. Its surface area is approx 3 hectares, to put it in a context that most would understand it is equivelant to about 3 1/2 football pitches. The top is adorned with lavish temples, monuments and buildings. The Parthenon (the most famous) and other main buildings on the Acropolis were built by Pericles in the fifth century BC as a monument to the cultural and political achievements of the inhabitants of Athens.


              The word "Acropolis" derives from the Ancient Greek words for "high city" or " Upper City", The rocky outcrop forms the basis for the original settlement in Athens. The Parthenon (which is often confused as the Acropolis) is arguably one of the world's most famous and instantly recognisable ruins. Indeed most people see this as the symbol of Athens and Greece itself. The sacred rock on which the famous landmark perches is almost 500 feet high. The different types of buildings actually reflect the different civilisations that have conquered and occupied Athens. Almost all have left their mark with a temple, monument or building.

              Our Visit

              Our visit was in Septeber so it was very busy and very hot! We had a full day in Athens, the majority of which was spent at the Acropolis. We did spend some time also wondering around the streets that lie below the Acropolis.


              We docked in the the port of, Piraeus, Greece. We then left the boat and walk to the tram stop which was about fifteen mins from our docking berth. The cost of the tram into the centre of Athens was very reasonable at around Euro2. If memory serves me right we took the green line.

              Stairway to Heaven

              No not the song or a guitar rift! This is what I have dubbed the walk up to the Acropolis. Its quite a site looking up from the carpark below to the summit. I must admit the steps seem a little daunting, but the prize which awaits you at the top give should give you added zing in your step (well for at leat th first 100ft)!
              Initially you have to brave the car park area at the base. There are of course the usual vendors and people basically trying to get your Euros. We as always try to come as best prepared as we can to avoid the need to purchase items at inflated prices.
              Entry cost is around Euro12 this ticket also valid for the Ancient Agora and Roman Forum, which overall is very good value for money.

              The walk to the summit is rather a steep climb up lots of steps. As you can see from my pictures is was very very hot! This makes the climb to the summit a bit of a chore but, its worth it so stick with it. You of course watch your footing, If Its busy even more care is required as people can sometime jostle you, you also have to have good sensible footwear. Water (before you depart) , a hat, suncream and sun glasses are also a must. The best time to start is early in the morning. This way you avoid the climb with sun at its height.This also allows more time on teh summit. Take your time and try to enjoy the climb as best you can. We stopped to admire the views, this of course is just an excuse to rest!.
              You enter the main site through the Propylea. This extends around 150 feet across the western face of the Acropolis. This in itself is a magnificent site and a taster of whats inside. Once through the Propylea the wonders of the Acropolis are in full view.

              Site Layout

              I have listed below the layout of the area. I will give a small amount of information about each, and where possible some personal thoughts. I have also included a picturePictures of Acropolis (Athens)
              Erechtheum, you may just be able to make out the Caryatids on the right of my picture. that will give you a visual idea of the layout. Once inside all teh wonders of the Acropolis are there for you to behold. Its very difficult to discribe the buildings and indeed the ruins adeqately. They are magnificent, I have included pictures below, however as you are all aware we are limited to 10! Which is a crying shame as I have lots of pictures.
              2.Old Temple of Athena
              4.Statue of Athena Promachos
              6.Temple of Athena Nike
              8.Sanctuary of Artemis Brauronia or Brauroneion
              12.Altar of Athena
              13.Sanctuary of Zeus Polieus
              14.Sanctuary of Pandion
              15.Odeon of Herodes Atticus
              16.Stoa of Eumenes
              17.Sanctuary of Asclepius or Asclepieion
              18.Theatre of Dionysus Eleuthereus
              19.Odeon of Pericles
              20.Temenos of Dionysus Eleuthereus

              Almost everyone confuses the Acropolis, with the Parthenon. The Parthenon is actually the main temple on the Acropolis which was built as a sanctuary for Athena.
              It is the largest building on the Acropolis site and dominates both the site and the Athens skyline. Its a truely iconic and awe inspiring building. It is reputed to have been built between 447 and 438 BC.
              To look at its truely amazing, the detail in the carvings and construction is mind blowing. You dont really get a feel for its size and lavish features until you see it up close and personal. For me this was the best feature of the entire site. Its well worth its cultural architectual significence.
              Old Temple of Athena
              This can be seen as the ruins in front of the Erechtheum. The temple was destroyed by the Persians in around 480 BC, it was the shrine of Athena Polias, more information is detailed below to give you a better understanding. Many artifacts have been found from the temple, these can be seen in the Acropolis Museum.

              The Erechtheion temple dedicated to Athena Polias. It is reputed to stand on the most sacred site on the Acropolis. Legend has it that, Poseidon and Athena had a contest over who would be the Patron of the city. Poseidon thrust his trident into the rock and a spring burst forth. Athena touched the ground with a spear and an olive tree grew. Athena was declared the victor and the great city of Athens was named in her honour.
              For me the temple magnificence can be summed up by the Caryatids. This is a porch type structure which originally had six columns. Each are carved like maidens, who are actually supporting the roof. It is a wonderful sight, however these are just copies of the originals. The originals are housed in the Acropolis museum, which you can visit and admire the real thing.
              Statue of Athena Promachos
              The Athena Promachos was a colossal bronze statue of Athena, sculpted by Pheidias. The statue originally stood between the Propylaea and the Parthenon. The statute measured about 30 feet high. It is believed to show Athena standing with her shield resting upright against her leg, and a spear in her right hand.
              The Athena Promachos was transported to Constantinople as a trophy. However the statue was destroyed in 1203. All that remain are parts of the marble base. There are copies of what they believe the original statute to look like in the museum.

              As mentioned earlier in my review the Propylaea, is the gateway to the whole site (The Greek word propulaia means "entrance", or, more specifically, "what stands before the doors (pro-pulai))".
              Its a magnificent gateway which, primarily served as a barrier to the Acropolis. This was to prevent those who were not ritually clean access to sanctuary. It also prevented (undisireable) people using the sanctuary where they could claim the protection of the gods. Building started in 437 B. C. It continued until 432. It is believed that it was never completed because of the Peloponnesian war that broke out soon after.
              It really is something to marvel at, for a front door (so to speak) its very impressive. just walking through gives you a sense of the importance of the whole site. Its vast and awe inspiring, one can only imagine how it would have looked if it had been completed.
              Temple of Athena Nike
              The temple is dedicated to Athena Nike and was the earliest Ionic temple on the Acropolis. The temple fairly small compared to the other temples located on the Acropolis. Its the first building you see when you approach the Propyleaea. The temple holds a prominent position on a steep bastion at the south west corner of the Acropolis to the right of the main entrance. The temple has been restored 3 times. To look at its rather dwarfed by the other temples on the site. It still is a work of art. The detailed carving is exceptional.

              ***In Greek "Nike" means Victory.
              Again another temple, this one is situated below the Acropolis, east of the Panathenaic Way, dedicated to the goddesses Demeter and PersephonÄ", dating from the time when Eleusis was finally amalgamated with Athens.

              Sanctuary of Artemis Brauronia or Brauroneion
              The Brauroneion was the sanctuary of Artemis Brauronia. It is located in the southwest corner on the Acropolis. It was dedicated to Artemis Brauronia, the protector of women in pregnancy and childbirth. During the time of Pisistratus, her cult was moved to Athens and this sanctuary built for her.
              Chalkotheke (Greek for "bronze store")
              All that remain of this structure are the foundations and rock-cut foundation trenches. The building stood in front of the southern Acropolis wall. Its was a fairly large building measuring around 43m in legnth and 14m wide.

              This sanctuary is dedicated to Pandrosus, one of the daughters of Cecrops, the first king of Athens . It occupied the space adjacent to the Erechtheum and the old Temple of Athena poleios.
              This a small building located next to the north wall where the Arrephores were housed. These were the young girls who wove the peplos that was used during the Panathenaic procession. The peplos was woven at a location just below the Acropolis in the Agora.

              Altar of Athena
              Basically its a ruined rectangular altar located east of the Temple of Athena, on axis with the temple. The picture below will give you a better idea.
              Sanctuary of Zeus Polieus
              This sanctuary was dedicated to Zeus as protector of the polis (the city), hence the name "polieus". Located east of the Erechtheion, the Athenians built the open-air sanctuary around 500 BC. The walls contained an area for the annual ritual of Bouphonia during which the sacrifice of oxen took place. It is believed that the east wing of the walled area was where the oxen were held. No building foundations have been found, and the sanctuary's layout is deduced from the rock cuttings on the site.

              Sanctuary of Pandion
              Dedicated to king Pandion, the father of Erechtheus, or to his great-grandson, aslo named Pandion. The foundations of the Pandion sanctuary were unearthed during excavations for the construction of the Acropolis museum that now exists at the east corner of the Acropolis.
              Odeon of Herodes Atticus
              This is a stone theatre structure located on the south slope of the Acropolis of Athens. It was built in 161 AD by Herodes Atticus in memory of his wife, Aspasia Annia Regilla. It was originally a steep-sloped amphitheater with a three-story stone front wall and a wooden roof, and was used as a venue for music concerts. This would have been a truely a magnificent building in its day. You can clearly see from the ruins the grandeur of the building.

              Stoa of Eumenes
              Located between the the theatre of Dionysos and the Odeion of Herodes Atticus, along the Peripatos (the ancient road around the Acropolis). This building was very large measuring 163m. long and 17.65 m. wide. It originally had two storeys. The only part that is now visible is the north retaining wall, from this you get a very good idea of what the structure looked like prior to its ruin.
              Sanctuary of Asclepius or Asclepieion
              These buildings, also called Asclepieion, were built close to a spring after the cult of Asclepius, the son of Apollo and god of medicine or health, had been introduced in Athens in 420 B. C. The Asclepieion consisted of a small temple, an altar and two halls:

              Theatre of Dionysus Eleuthereus
              Located on the southern slopes of the Acropolis Hill, the Théatro Dionysou was home to the original performances of the tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripedes and the comedies of Aristophanes. This stone auditorium, from the fourth century BC is reputed to have held 17000 spectators.

              Odeon of Pericles
              Located next to the Theatre of Dionysus, on the south slope of the Acropolis. The Odeon is believed to have been the first roofed theatre-building devoted to performance, as well as the first permanent theatre built on the south slope. It constructed between 446-442 BC, and built mostly from wood. The original Odean was destroyed by fire and later rebuilt using stone.
              Temenos of Dionysus Eleuthereus
              Located at the foot of the Acropolis and forming part of the temenos of "Dionysus Eleuthereus" ("Dioe Liberator"). The Theatre of Dionysus was a major open-air theatre in Athens, it is dedicated to the god of wine and fertility, it hosted the City Dionysia festival.

              This sanctuary is built in a crack in the cliff on the northern side of the Acropolis. It is dedicated to Aglaurus, another daughter of Cecrops who was the first king of Athens. Here the Athenian ephebes take the pledge of allegiance to their homeland.

              The Museum

              When we visited the Acropolis Museum was located in the southeast corner of the Acropolis. However they have now built a museum at the base of Acropolis Hill. Artifacts have now been moved to the new location. The museum allows you a better insight into what the buildings looked like. You can see many wonderfully preserved artifacts. Lavish statues and carvings are housed in the museum as well as the original Caryatids. Its quite easy to spend several hours in the museum. This is the best place to see what thed inside of the buildings would have looked like.
              I have included a couple of pictures of artifacts from the museum below.


              We ate at one of the small cafes that line the roads around the Acropolis. As we had eaten breakfast on the ship and it was only mid morniing we decided to have a light snack. We had Coffee and Pastries. As you would expect the prices are slightly infated. They are however reasonable enough and the food and coffee was very good.

              There are many cafes,bars,restaraunts, located in the immediate area. All are roughly the same (inflated) price. There are some which are more inviting than others (cleaner looking) I would advise looking around rather then going in the first one you see.


              We did not use any local accommodation as we returned to the ship and departed for Turkey the same day. I have however listed a few hotels in the immediate area for you to consider.
              Herodion Hotel
              With a great location at the foot of the Acropolis and a few steps from the new Acropolis Museum, a wonderful roof garden with amazing view, sun loungers and 2 jacuzzis. The modern rooms have recently renovated marble bathrooms and come with satellite TV, minibar, Wi-Fi, ambience lighting and room service. Most of the rooms have private balconies and some have a view of the Acropolis.
              Cost from Euro80.

              Magna Grecia Boutique Hotel
              Offering amazing views of the Acropolis, this intimate hotel is centrally situated in historic Plaka, possibly the most charming Athens neighbourhood, 5 minutes' walk from Syntagma Square.
              The rooms of Magna Grecia Boutique Hotel are decorated with luxurious simplicity, using soft colours to create a calm environment. They are very well equipped and come with free Wi-Fi (laptop rental service available) and 24-hour room service. Cost from Euro70.

              Plaka Hotel
              Situated in the heart of the city, in the attractive Plaka area, this hotel is a few blocks from Syntagma Square and next to the shopping area. Enjoy the magnificent view from the roof-garden.
              The elegant hotel rooms are newly furnished and have a modern atmosphere. They have a private bathroom. Some rooms are connectable, making them ideal for families. Cost from Euro65.

              Useful Information
              Transport: The tram was around Euro2

              Entrance: Euro12 (however this may have increased) . The ticket is also valid for the Ancient Agora and Roman Forum.

              Opening times: Summer daily 8am-8pm; winter daily 8am-3pm. These times may vary, depending on the season.
              Food/Drink: As you would expect it is more expensive, aound 25% more on avergae. I would advise that you do not buy from vendors in the car park as they are rather expensive.

              There are(were) toilets in the museum at the top of the Acropolis and some in the car park at the base. Both are of a good standard. There are various shops and vendors selling gifts etc. There are guides located at the base who can be hired for around Euro60. I would advise against this, there is no better guide than yourself in my opinion.
              Disabled access is unrealistic due to the steep climb and extremely difficult terrain.

              The Acropolis was recently selected as main motif for a high value euro collectors' coins; the Euro100 Greek The Acropolis of Athens commemorative coin, minted in 2004 to commemorate the 2004 Summer Olympics. In the obverse of the coin, a close view of the building is depicted.


              TOP TIPS
              Start early in the morning to avoid the climb in the height of the Sun.

              As with most tourist hotspots you need to be aware of pickpockets.
              Do not buy from vendors in the car park they are very expensive.

              Good Footwear is required.

              You need to be reletively fit.
              Lots of Water (take your own)

              Sun cream, hat and glasses.
              Bags are not allowed on the Acropolis so avoid bringing valuables.


              I would imagine that most people know the Acropolis by sight, or rather the Parthenon. Despite what I have said above I could not help feel a little dissapointed once our visit was over. For me the Acropolis and its buildings lack something... Yes they are a work of oustanding craftsmanship and a testament to the peoiple that created them. The sculptures, engravings carvings, paintings and sheer genius that created each building is breath taking, but for me it lacks personality. Personally religious sites dont flick my switch, I have visited the Vatican City, the buildings there are amongst the finest I have ever seen. I have a problem with this as for me such a show of wealth and opulence should not be displayed by the church. Religion should be there to serve the people not lord it over them. This view has perhaps clouded my overall feeling towards the Acropolis and its buildings. That said it truely is a wonderful site. The craftmanship that has gone into each and every building on the site is plain to see. Its one of those places that you should visit if you get the chance.


              Yes, it really is a site to behold.


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              • More +
                06.03.2010 19:28
                Very helpful





                As I am currently drafting reviews of some of the locations and trips we visited on our Honeymoon, I thought it would be better to try and post them in some sort of order. To that end I am now going to review the actual Cruise first. I will then review some of the locations we visited. I have already reviewed what I consider to be our best trip, Pompeii, which you can find in my reviews.


                We booked a cruise for our Honeymoon at Crown Travel in Liverpool. We (as is standard) flipped through several travel brouches before eventually deciding on Princess Cruises that their Grand Mediterranean Cruise, this is 13 day cruise.

                ===Booking the Cruise===

                As mentioned above, we booked at our (then) local Travel Agents, Crown Travel in Liverpool. We were dealt with by an extremely friendly and very helpful representative. We were greatly helped by the fact that me wife's family have used that agent many times and are on first name terms.

                The service we recieved was brilliant, initially when we booked we were told that we would be flying from Manchester Airport to Venice Marco Polo. We were informed a few days later that a mistake had been made and that there were no flight available from Manchester direct to Venice Marco Polo and we would have to fly from Gatwick. As a result we would have to make our own way to Gatwick at our own cost! However step in Crown Travel, they paid for flights to Gatwick the night before our departure date and the hotel at Gatwick!

                They also provided Champagne and Chocolate Covered Strawberries in our room on our first week anniversary! We were not expecting that it was a great surprise to come back from a day out and find that and a nice card from our travel agent.

                '''Excellent service.'''



                All in all we had three flights during our holiday. The main flights are flights specifically for Princess Cruises. You are looked after exremely well and they do go the extra mile for you. One particular nicety was the fact that we gave our luggage in at Gatwick, the next time we saw it, it was delivered to our room on the ship!!

                Manchester - Gatwick
                Gatwick - Venice, Marco Polo
                Barcelona to Manchester


                On arrival at Venice Marco Airport we were collected and bused to a reception area before boarding the ship. The reception was huge, there were at least 25 check in desks this was a good start as it shows they are clearly customer focused. You complete all registration paperwork including, passports checks, next of kin etc, you also register your credit card as they dont usually take cash on the ship. This then gives you a shipboard account which you charge to. This of course makes it easier to purchase things on the ship, however the issue I have with this is that you dont physically see what you are spending. I will come onto my thoughts about this process later in my review.

                They also provide you with a comprehensive information pack. This lists all the activities and facilities on the ship. It also lists the ports we will dock at and the local attractions, customs and even a shopping guide! It really is a complete package. On leaving the reception we believed that we had ample information to prepare us for the cruise.

                ===Our Ship Star Princess===

                We then had a short walk over a gangway, as we arrived at the dock side we saw our ship. I was completely tacken aback. I was prepared for a big vessel but the Star Princess is massive! The sheer size of it blows you away. It has over 700 balcony state-rooms. It also has an entire deck of mini-suites. It has a gym, pools, bars, shops, casino, multiple restaraunts, theatre, library and much more. To look at the ship is stunning, it gleaming white and immaculately presented.

                '''Ship Layout'''

                Once you have passed through the security (more detail later in the review) you enter into a world of grandeur. The ship is stunning its decour, fixtures and fittings are of the finest quality and its spotless throughout. Its hard to put into words how the ship looks. The public areas/rooms are ornate, lavish, warm and inviting. The grand staircase is a sight to behold, it covers several decks and is the focal point on the ship. It is surrounded by the majority of the boutiques and the main shopping area.

                Each deck is visually fantastic, and to a degree virtually self sufficient, there are bars, restaraunts and public areas on each deck, also there are laundry and ironing facilities on every other deck. The only downside is that the ship/decks are somewhat difficult to navigate, it is rather confusing, this however is offset by maps on each deck.

                The pool area has the more "fast food" style eateries. There is a pizza/burger bar, this is the first place we ate when we arrived on the ship. The standard was very good indeed and its all you can eat! The pools are a good size with spa's on each side, there is also a pool which is resereved for adults.

                I will give a cpmprehensive list of facilities on board below . I will also list the different types of rooms available, and I will give a personal opinion regarding our room.

                ===Our Room L306===

                '''Oceanview Double With Balcony'''

                On entering our room we were extremely impressed. It was a good size for a start, it was very well furnished with quality items and spotless clean! There is ample room to move about the room without any fuss. The balcony was a good size, we could comfortably sit outside and enjoy the views. The bathroom was again spotless, and the fixtures and fittings were of a very high quality. The shower was like a rain storm possessed! We had a large TV, fitted wardrobes and a good sized refrigerator. There was Champagne and Chocolate dipped strawberries as a gift from Princess Cruises to celebrate our wedding.

                '''A Funny For You To Enjoy'''

                This is true!!

                So my wife opens the wardrobe to find the safe to lock away our passports,cash etc. which she duely does.
                I then said......." So whats the code for the safe"?
                She replies 2808.
                I said " Why the bloodyhell have you chosen those numbers I wont remember those" !?
                She replies " Well thats the date we have just got married on"!

                ===Other Available Rooms===

                '''Star Princess State-rooms'''

                '''Oceanview Double'''
                Passengers traveling in these accommodations enjoy twin beds which make up into a comfortable queen-size bed, a large picture window, a refrigerator and TV, a spacious closet and a bathroom with a shower.

                Grand Suite With Balcony.
                A Bedroom with a queen-size bed, a separate sitting room with a sofa, and a private balcony are just a few of the amenities included. This beautiful room also features three televisions, a refrigerator and a wet bar, a walk-in closet, and a bath with tub.

                '''Suite With Balcony'''

                Accommodation include twin beds which make up into a queen-size bed, separate sitting room with sofa bed, a private balcony, two televisions, a refrigerator with a wet bar, a walk-in closet and a bath with tub and shower.

                '''Family Suite'''

                Each suite is actually two self-contained staterooms interconnecting through a large living room which leads to an oversized private balcony. Each suite sleeps up to eight people.

                '''Mini-Suite With Balcony'''

                Twin beds which make up into a queen-size bed, a private balcony, refrigerator, and TV make these accommodations like a home away from home. With a spacious closet and a bath with shower who can resist?


                Passengers traveling in these accommodations enjoy twin beds which make up into a comfortable queen-size bed, 2 porthole windows, a refrigerator and TV, a spacious closet and a bathroom with a shower.

                '''Oceanview Obstructed'''

                Oceanview staterooms with partially or obstructed views are a great value. They feature a picture window providing natural light and added ambience. You'll find them comfortable and welcoming with all the amenities of an interior stateroom.

                '''Interior Double'''

                Ample space and luxurious accommodations await guests in these categories. They'll also find twin beds that make up into a comfortable queen-size bed, a refrigerator and TV, a spacious closet and a bathroom with a shower. The room measures 160 square feet.


                The sheer amount of facilities onboard is amazing. The ship is big, granted, but I was astounded at what was on offer. I have listed below the facilities.

                ''''Formal Dining''''

                *Amalfi Dining Room
                *Portofino Dining Room
                *Capri Dining Room
                *Sabatini's (Italian restaurant)
                *Sterling Steakhouse at Tequila's
                *Ultimate Balcony DiningSM

                ''''Casual Dining''''

                *24-hour International Cafe
                *Horizon Court and Bistro
                *Vines wine and seafood bar
                *Scoops ice cream bar
                *Prego Pizzeria
                *Outdoor hamburger grill
                *Afternoon tea
                *24-hour room service
                * Piazza-style atrium featuring casual dining venues.

                *Princess Theater
                *Vista Show Lounge
                *Movies Under the Stars outdoor theater
                *Grand Casino Virtual View
                *Explorers Lounge (nightclub-style performances)
                Virtual View
                *Skywalkers Nightclub (15 decks above the sea)
                Various Lounges


                *Wheelhouse Bar Virtual View
                *Shooter's Cigar Bar
                *Promenade Lounge and Bar

                '''Pools & Spas'''

                *Calypso Reef and Pool (plus 2 hot tubs) Virtual View
                *Neptune's Reef and Pool (plus 2 hot tubs)
                Virtual View
                *Terrace Pool
                *Oasis pool & hot tub
                *The Sanctuary (adults only)
                *Full-service Japanese-themed spa with ocean-view gym


                *Lotus Spa, gym and fitness area
                *Swim-against-the-current lap pool
                *Nine-hole putting course
                *Virtual golf simulators
                *Center Court


                *World-class art collection, gallery and auctions
                *24-hour Internet Café (wireless access available)
                *Hearts & Minds Wedding Chapel
                *Boutiques (duty-free)
                *Future Cruise Sales

                '''Under 18's'''

                *Teen Center
                *Youth Center
                *Splash pool
                Video arcade


                As mentioned above there are the less formal places to dine dotted around the ship. The pizza/burger bar, 24-hour International Cafe are very good as are the other restaraunts.

                The food was simply excellent, the only area that was a slight criticism is that they cater for Americans. So the breakfast is pancakes,syrup, etc basically a more sweet based breakfast. Not the full English that we are used to but still the choice and quality was outstanding.

                The breakfast restaraunt was used for lunch, we did not have lunch very often as when we docked we left the ship. The few times that we did dine again teh quality and service was fantastic, one thing they do do well is food.

                There are 2 sittings to accommodate all the passengers. We chose the second sitting, this you choose when you initally book the cruise. There are 2 formal dinner nights on the cruise, these dress is strict, dinner jacket or dark buisness suit for males, evening gown or cocktail dress for Ladies. For all other dinner meals its shirt and trousers for males and skirt/blouse or trouser suit for ladies.

                One of the highlights of each day was dinner, every single meal and bottle of wine was outstanding, this is were they excel at Princess. The quality. choice of food are outstanding, as was the service provided. Dinner each evening truely was exceptional.


                There are as you would imagine bars located throughout the ship. Most of the bars are themed and have specific entertainment nights like bingo,singles and dance nights. We settled on a bar which was located just by the grand staircase this was the bar we used for the majority of the cruise. It was a more casual bar, with a relaxed atmosphere. On the ship drinks are more expensive as you would expect, this itself did not bother me to much. What did grip me a little was the gratuity that you had to pay on each drink. You basically have to pay 15% on a drink and you can not opt out, by the time you have finished the cruise it really does add up. I have always prefered to tip because I want to rather than being told to.


                There are shows each night on in the theatre, generally the shows are for me a bit short. If you are on the second sitting for dinner then the time frame between dinner and the start of the show is tight. You really need to be at teh front of the queue as the theatre is not big enough to accommodate all the passengers. As I mentioned the shows are a bit short, each is around an hour, that includes the warm up acts. The quality of the entertainers is good, but again geared towards the American sense of humour...if thats what you call it. All in all they are well worth the visit.

                The casino is not open that often, this is to do with licensing laws, generally its open for the at sea nights. I paid a short inexpensive visit. That was enough for me. It has all that you would find in a casino, the machines and tables are played in dollars, there is also a cash machine for you to withdraw cash from any UK account. Handy! You can also charge cash to your shipboard account, however if you do they add 3% surcharge!

                '''Skywalkers Nightclub'''
                This is at the very top far end of the ship. We only visited this once and that was really just to see what it was like. Its a great area but with the age group usually on a cruise its not that well used should we say.

                ===Customer Services===

                As you will gather from this review, this is an area they take extremely seriously. They really do go that extra mile to ensure you are enjoying your holiday. The information desk is open for the majority

                ===Medical Facility===

                There is a full medical centre available 24hrs a day. Luckily we did not require this.


                As you would expect the staff bend over backwards to help you. The staff are attentive, polite and very helpful, you really are waited on hand and foot, some of the guest seem to abuse this in my opinion. I must admit this makes me a little uncomfortable, but you do pay for it and I suppose its they expect.
                Most of the staff are from the Far East/Asia, they all speak good English and are extremely polite and helpful.
                The working arrangements employed by the company leave a lot to be desired, lets say that they basically "use" the labour. One might even say they exploit peoples needs. I do have a strong opinion on this, however I shall refrain as I am not them and I cant be truely impartial.

                ===Countries/Ports Visited===

                I have listed below the Countries and ports we visited. I shall not go into details as it would firstly make this review longer than War and Peace, and secondly some of the places we visited will be reviews later. All I can say is that there is a good mix of countries and ports visited. In one or two places we would have liked longer, and perhaps this is something they should consider. They stay in Barcelona was wholly inadequate it was just 4 hrs.

                1. Venice, Italy
                2. Athens (Piraeus), Greece
                3.Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey
                4. Mykonos, Greece
                5. Naples/Capri, Italy
                6. Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy
                7. Florence/Pisa (Livorno), Italy
                8. Monte Carlo, Monaco
                9. Barcelona, Spain

                As you can see above you do get to visit a lot of countries. This really is what drove us to choose this cruise. we both ticked off many places that we had always wanted to see.

                For me the stand out places where our visit to Pompeii and Rome.


                Princess provided shuttle boats on two occasions, once at Venice and once at Monaco.

                The shuttle to Venice the evening and the morning before we departed we paid for, I was a little dissapointed in this. They could have provided transport for free. The cost was $10 charged to your shipboard account.

                The shuttle to Monte Carlo was free, it was crowded and we had to queue but of course this is to be expected.


                Well they are American! security is extremely important and especially in todays climate. There are security checks on entering and leaving the ship. You pass has your photograph on which is matched against the ships computer. When the ship docks in port a huge banner is unfolded that informs all vessels to keep at least 150 mtrs away.
                All in all the security measures are excellent.

                ===The Little Extra's===


                Firstly, I have never seen anything like this. The keep the ship immaculate, so much so that one evening (very late) on our way back to our room they were actually re-laying new carpet in one corridor!!

                The ship is kept spotless, rubbish and dirt just dont exist. The ship is washed from top to bottomalmost on a daily basis.

                Its the small things in life that make the difference like:

                1. We got an upgrade as it was our Honeymoon. Brilliant.
                2. Chocolate dipped strawberries and Champagne on arrival.
                3. Your bed turned down ever night and also chocolate on your pillow.
                4. Easy wheelchair access staterooms and most public areas also a steward to help.


                GRATUITY!!!! Americans arghhhh tip here tip there they are obsessed! And you are taxed on the tip!
                Basically you pay gratuity on certain items or facilities. For example;

                You pay gratuity to your room steward. this is set at $10 a day. Meaning that for our Cruise it would have been $130. This is very expensive in my opinion. However in small print on the leaflets it states that you can opt out, indeed in the bar couples that had previous cruise experience told us that they opt out and pay the steward direct to ensure that they recieve all the cash. This is what we did, and we felt better for it. $100 before you ask!

                There is also gratuity on every drink that you buy, 15%. This really does mount up over the duration of the cruise. Especially as you pay tax on the tip!

                Credit Card: As you have registered your credit card everything as near as damn it is charged to the card. Great? well for ease yes, for keeping an eye on your spending... A Big No! Unless you are very careful and also regulary check your balance at the information desk your spending can spiral out of control. Be careful!

                Yes I have had a bit of a moan above, but all in all it does not detract from the experience.


                Well, hopefully from my review above you will have gathered that I really rate this cruise. Yes it has its slight flaws, but nothing in life nothing is perfect. From start to finish the level of service never dips below excellent. Everytthing really is geared to ensuring you have an excellent time. From the moment they take your luggage at the airport to the moment you leave the ship they do give 100%. Our room, the ship, the staff, the facilities, the entertainment, the dining, everything, was first class. Princess Cruises deliver, big time.

                The same can of course be said for their desire to prise you cash, but hey ho, be resolute and firm and spend only what you want to.


                Yes, it is a fantastic way to see many places in a short time


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                • Cinderella Man (DVD) / DVD / 118 Readings / 114 Ratings
                  More +
                  06.03.2010 16:48
                  Very helpful



                  A good solid film

                  "One man's extraordinary fight to save the family he loved."


                  The Cinderella Man is the nickname given to James J. Braddock a 1920/1930's boxer, by Damon Runyon, a New York journalist. Runyon gave him this nickname after his rise from nobody to somebody. This film is fact-based and inspired by his life story, his struggles, his success.

                  ***I will give a basic outline of the plot to aviod spoilers***


                  The story is set in both New York and New Jersey during the American depression of the 1930's.

                  Russell Crowe plays James J. Braddock, a light heavyweight boxer. Braddock was on the verge of the big time. However despite his early successess and a record of having never been knocked out, injuries including a broken hand which, in turn lead to poor performances cause Braddock to lose his boxing licence. He was subsequently forced to retire. Enter the deppression, the stock market crashes his investments are worthless, he and his family were reduced to poverty.

                  Renee Zellweger plays Mae Braddock, his adoring wife. She had alway hoped and pleaded with Braddock to quit boxing before becoming injured, she is delighted that she has finally got her wish.

                  The great deppression is in full force, people are suffering the worst hardship in American history, almost every family is affected. Jobs were extremely hard to come by and the competition for jobs was huge. Braddock is forced to work at the docks to support his family.
                  Five years after retiring and never really coming to terms with having to retire from boxing Braddock is delighted when his old manager Joe Gould (Paul Giamatti) offers him a chance to box again as a last minute replacement in a fight. Of course one thing leads to another. Braddock sees this as a way out of their terrible situation.

                  The story then follows his attempts to make it big in the boxing world and secure security for his family and for him some respect.


                  Well they are without a doubt two of the biggest stars in Hollywood at the moment. But how do they perform in this film?

                  '''Russell Crowe'''

                  The bad boy of Hollywood. Well we know he can act, I mean Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind for me are two standout performances by Crowe. There are of course one or two that shall go unmentioned.
                  In this though for me he is back to his best. He gives a sterling performance and his boxing is not that bad to boot. He gives depth to the character, with Crowe for me its the little things, his facial expressions or his ability to look vunerable or valiant in an instant. A great performance for me.

                  '''Renee Zellweger'''

                  Now I actually do quite like Renne but, there is just something strange about her..... Maybe its the fact that she never seems to open her eyes fully or her slightly annoying voice. Perhaps she should have been a voice over for The Chipmunks sequel? That aside she does deliver a good performance in this film. Not at strong as Crowe's but never the less still a solid performance. She in my opinion will always be a supporting actress, I am sure many will disagree.


                  Russell Crowe ... Jim Braddock
                  Renée Zellweger ... Mae Braddock
                  Paul Giamatti ... Joe Gould
                  Craig Bierko ... Max Baer
                  Paddy Considine ... Mike Wilson
                  Bruce McGill ... Jimmy Johnston
                  David Huband ... Ford Bond
                  Connor Price ... Jay Braddock
                  Ariel Waller ... Rosemarie Braddock
                  Patrick Louis ... Howard Braddock
                  Rosemarie DeWitt ... Sara Wilson
                  Linda Kash ... Lucille Gould
                  Nicholas Campbell ... Sporty Lewis
                  Chuck Shamata ... Father Rorick


                  This film is directed by Ron Howard, who has also directed Apollo 13, The Da Vinci Code and A Beautiful Mind, where he worked with Russell Crowe. Howard has clearly captured the spirit and story of Braddock in this film. He has developed that charaters which in turn makes the whole story feel real. His direction has resulted in an excellent production of a fact based film.

                  Yes, its well worth watching. Its a good film with good acting and a good story. Its a feel good film that delivers very well. Its a litlle long perhaps 20 mins less would have been better.


                  I really enjoyed this film. I do like both leading actors but they are not my favourites, yet in this film they both deliver convincing performance. There are scenes in the film that will restore you faith in mankind and the sense of right and wrong.

                  It was never going to set the world alight like Gladiator or Bridget Jone's Diary, its a good film that should be enjoyed.

                  ===FILM DETAILS===

                  Parents Guide: 12 A
                  Running time: 144 mins

                  '''DVD extras'''

                  Deleted scenes.
                  Ron Howard Introduction.
                  Ringside Seats Feature.


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                  • Henry V (DVD) / DVD / 99 Readings / 96 Ratings
                    More +
                    02.03.2010 13:26
                    Very helpful



                    Watch It!!!

                    "O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend The brightest heaven of invention! A kingdom for a stage, princes to act, And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!"


                    I am slightly ashamed to say that this is the only Shakesprear play that I could say I am familiar with. Also I actually decided to seek out Henry V after watching a film in with Danny Devito in, it was a scene were they re-enacted the St Crispin's Day speech. That was me hooked, I just had to see the entire play or film. Enter Kenneth Branagh as Henry V.

                    ***I will give a brief insight into the plot so as to to reveal any spoliers***

                    The story as the title suggests is about King Henry V and his expliots in France and in particular at Agincourt.
                    The opening is Derek Jacobi acting as the chorus. This is a masterpiece by Brannagh and sets the film up from the outset. Periodically Derek Jacobi appears to give well timed narration to the story.

                    Henry has laid claim to the throne of France. The response from the French is to dispatch Mountjoy, a French Herald (Christopher Ravenscroft) to deliver the French Kings response. Tennis Balls!
                    This then sets into motion Henry's sword of might to anvenge the insult and take what he believes is rightfully his, the throne of France. Henry raises an Army and on 11 August 1415 Henry sailed for France.

                    The film then depicts his trials and tribulations in France and his attempt to claim the throne of France for himself and England.


                    Chorus - Derek Jacobi
                    Henry V of England - Kenneth Branagh
                    Duke of Gloucester Brother to the King - Simon Shepherd
                    Duke of Bedford Brother to the King - James Larkin
                    Duke of Exeter, Uncle to the King - Brian Blessed
                    Westmoreland - Paul Gregory
                    Archbishop of Canterbury - Charles Kay
                    Bishop of Ely - Alec McCowen
                    Earl of Cambridge, Traitor - Fabian Cartwright
                    Lord Scroop, Traitor - Stephen Simms
                    Sir Thomas Grey, Traitor - Jay Villiers
                    Sir Thomas Erpingham, Officer in King Henry's Army - Edward Jewesbury
                    Fluellen, Officer in King Henry's Army - Ian Holm
                    Gower, Officer in King Henry's Army - Daniel Webb
                    Jamy, Officer in King Henry's Army - Jimmy Yuill
                    Macmorris, Officer in King Henry's Army - John Sessions
                    Bates, Soldier in King Henry's Army - Shaun Prendergast
                    Court, Soldier in King Henry's Army - Pat Doyle
                    Williams, Soldier in King Henry's Army - Michael Williams
                    Bardolph - Richard Briers
                    Nym - Geoffrey Hutchings
                    Pistol - Robert Stephens
                    Sir John Falstaff - Robbie Coltrane
                    Boy - Christian Bale
                    Mistress Quickly - Judi Dench
                    Charles VI of France - Paul Scofield
                    Louis, the Dauphin - Michael Maloney
                    Duke of Burgundy - Harold Innocent
                    Duke of Orleans - Richard Clifford
                    Grandpre, French Lord - Colin Hurley
                    Constable - Richard Easton
                    Mountjoy, a French Herald - Christopher Ravenscroft
                    Katharine, Daughter to Charles and Isabel - Emma Thompson
                    Alice, a Lady attending on Katharine - Geraldine McEwan
                    Governor of Harfleur - David Lloyd Meredith
                    Warwick - Nicholas Ferguson
                    John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury - Tom Whitehouse
                    Duke of Berry - Nigel Greaves
                    Bretagne - Julian Gartside

                    Its hard to put into words just how good this version of Shakespears Henry V is. I have seen the version directed by Laurence Olivier and whilst its great this is better.

                    This film shows Shakespears work in all its glory. Branagh has brought the baird's work into the modern age without destroying the character of the play.
                    The film is rich in emotion and passion, the sets are wonderfully designed, rich and visually stunning. The dialogue and in particular Branaghs delivery will have you open mouthed. He delievers each word with a passion and power that is hard to believe. Its clear, crisp and precise. It grabs you by the throat and doesnt let go.

                    The St Crispins day speech is to behold, his delivery is just jaw dropping. even now I am convinced that speech alone could persuade a man to fight on no matter what the odds.
                    "And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by, From this day to the ending of the world, But we in it shall be remember'd; We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he to-day that sheds his blood with me Shall be my brother" - Delivered with passion and gusto by Brannagh.

                    Branagh is not alone in delivering outstanding performances, Derek Jacobi as the chorus sets the film up magically from the opening scene. A true legend.
                    Brian Blessed is wonderful as The Duke of Exeter, (Uncle to the King) - If I were King this big bear of a man at my side I would want. His delivery of the "Armoured Ultimatum" would send a shiver down anyones spine.

                    "He'll make the Paris Louvre shake for it." - Brilliant.
                    Emma Thompson delivers a fine performance as Katharine, Daughter to Charles and Isabel. This part of the film for slow down the film to much. She barely speaks a word of English in this film, I dont think it adds anything to the film or indeed the plot over the whole course of the film. Maybe if I could speak French I would have enjoyed her performace more.

                    There is a great supporting cast througout the film, in fact to many to mention. All the best of British literally on show. The film has a stunning soundtrack, particularly the use of music in the scene following the battle of Agincourt in which the warring parties collect their dead for burial.
                    The battle scenes are gritty, intense and strong, deviod of gore as this would not enhance the visual pleasure. Man against man on a muddy rain soaked field, its direction by Branagh is a joy to witness.

                    Yes the film skips one of the less noble English actions he orders the mass killing of French prisoners. But the Branagh can be forgiven for that. It is a film that celebrates English Imperialism and I make no apologies for it. Its a glorious adaptation of a classic story. One you will thoroughly enjoy.

                    Buy it on DVD, you will want to watch it again and again. Highly Recommended.


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                    • More +
                      28.02.2010 19:37
                      Very helpful




                      Continuing my rummage through my CD collection, I stumbled upon White Ladder by David Gray.

                      As I am all for sharing my musical thoughts I thought would take it upon myself to "educate" those who are the as yet unconverted to the best album made by Mr Gray.

                      Joking aside, this is a classic album. For David Gray this was his big breakthrough, in much the same way that Jagged Little Pill was for Alanis Morrisette. Also like Morissette it was by far his most successful album and he like her has not since made an album of the same quality or commercial success.

                      '''I will rate each song from 1-10, 1 being poor, 10 being excellent.'''


                      David Gray has released several albums with little commercial success prior to White Ladder. I have listed them below in his album catalogue. On this album Gray changed his style from folk-rock to alternative rock and experimented using a more electronic sound. This gave him a more mainstream pop feel.

                      White Ladder was not an instant success, it took its take climbing up the album charts to the number one spot. It still holds the record for the longest uninterrupted climb to Number One.
                      White Ladder is David Gray's 4th Studio Album.

                      ===Track Listing===

                      1. Please Forgive Me - 5:35
                      2. Babylon - 4:25
                      3. My Oh My - Gray, McClune 4:37
                      4. We're Not Right Gray, McClune, Polson 3:03
                      5. Nightblindness - 4:23
                      6. Silver Lining - 6:00
                      7. White Ladder- Gray, McClune, Polson 4:14
                      8. This Year's Love - 4:05
                      9. Sail Away - 5:15
                      10.Say Hello Wave Goodbye - Almond, Ball 9:03

                      All track are written by David Gray except:

                      We're Not Right Gray, McClune, Polson
                      White Ladder- Gray, McClune, Polson
                      Say Hello Wave Goodbye - Almond, Ball

                      ===Personal Opinion on Each Track===

                      1. Please Forgive Me. A great opening song. I really like this song its one of my favourites on the album. This song song sets you up for the rest of the album. Show casing his greta voice musical arrangement and lyrics. Brilliant start to the album. 10/10

                      2. Babylon. His highest charting single to date. This was the song that propelled teh album to number one in the charts. its an u tempo song with a good solid beat throughout. The strings on this song are fantastic. A good solid song. 9/10

                      3. My Oh My. A slower song and a little dour in places. Still lyrically it shows his writing skills. Musically its arrangement is good and serves the lyrics well. Its more a filler song on an album.

                      4. We're Not Right. A good string introduction to this song. Its a slow song that is practically spoken. I like this because he has a great voice for this type of song. Its a little dour but I can live with it. 8/10

                      5. Nightblindness . Again, a great string intro to the song. Another slow song that is very similar to track four. Again I like this song as you get the rawness of his voice. 8/10

                      6. Silver Lining. A little more up tempo than the previous two song. This for me is the weakest song on the album. Its just a little bit to dour. 6/10

                      7. White Ladder. A more up beat song. The title track from the album. Its a good song but it just does not grab me enough. Again musically and lyrically its good just not really my cup of tea. 7/10

                      8. This Year's Love. My fovourite song on the album. Its a great ballad, lyrically its brilliant as is his pianon playing. A great song. 10/10

                      9. Sail Away. This song has a great introduction. Lyrically it grabs you from the start.
                      Its not really a ballad but it is a slower song. Its a good song that again shows off all his song writing and singing skills. 9/10

                      10.Say Hello Wave Goodbye. I much prefer this version that Marc Almonds. I think that Gray gives it a bit more emotion and depth. Its a slow song that is just right to finish the album. 9/10

                      ===Life After White Ladder===

                      Well to be honest musically wise it has not been great. Like so many artists he has found it impossible to live up to critical cclaim of White Ladder. His subsequent releases have just not reached the same commercial success. I have listened to them and they just dont cut the mustard. This is a shame as I believe he has much to offer. He just cant seem to hit the nail on the head.

                      ===To Buy or Not To Buy?===

                      I would recommend this album. It for me is a classic album. Its by far his best work to date. It show cases his song writing, singing and musical skill to great effect. Yes there are a couple of weak songs on the album, but find me an album that does not have the same.

                      ===Album Catalogue===

                      A Century Ends (April 1993)
                      Flesh (September 1994)
                      Sell, Sell, Sell (August 1996)
                      White Ladder (November 1998)
                      Lost Songs 95-98 (February 2001)
                      A New Day at Midnight (October 2002)
                      Life in Slow Motion (September 2005)
                      Draw the Line (September 2009)


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                      • Innuendo - Queen / Music Album / 71 Readings / 66 Ratings
                        More +
                        27.02.2010 19:10
                        Very helpful



                        A fantastic Album

                        I have an extensive Queen CD collection. After my review of Basshunter (So called todays music/musicians) I thought I would review a "real" musician(s)/band. I have choosen Queen's Innuendo.


                        I think its time to impart some Queen into the review pages. I mean they are pure class and their music has and will always stand the test of time. Hopefully this review will gain some more fans of the greatest rock band ever to grace our shores.
                        Queen, for me the greatest British rock band ever! A bold statement yes, but they are the real package. All the members can play instruments, a rare thing in a band today. All can write quality songs, and oh how they can entertain and put on a show...Live....they were unequalled.

                        Queen are:
                        Freddie Mercury: Lead vocals, piano
                        Brian May: Electric guitars
                        Roger Taylor: Drums and percussion
                        John Deacon: Bass
                        Below are my thoughts on Innuendo:


                        Innuendo is Queens 14th studio album. Released in 1991 its final studio album released while lead singer Freddie Mercury was still alive and the last to be composed entirely of new material.
                        This album was recorded when Freddie was in the advanced stages of the terrible illness HIV/AIDS. His and the bands determination to give the world as much music as he could before he lost his final battle with the disease is a credit to them all.

                        Songs will be rated from 1-10. 1 being poor 10 being Outstanding. I dont think you will see ant 1's!

                        Singing/Song Style
                        All are good singers however, Freddie has the stand out voice. Its powerful, deep, rich and pure. He can deliver a hard ass rock tune, ballad or even operatic song that will blow you away.
                        The music is generally of the rock genre. Their songs are generally up tempo with a great drum, piano and electric/bass guitar accompaniment.

                        Track Listing

                        1. Innuendo 6:29
                        2. I'm Going Slightly Mad 4:22
                        3. Headlong 4:39
                        4. I Can't Live with You 4:35
                        5. Don't Try So Hard 3:39
                        6. Ride the Wild Wind 4:41
                        7. All God's People (Queen, Mike Moran) 4:19
                        8. These Are the Days of Our Lives 4:12
                        9. Delilah 3:32
                        10. The Hitman 4:52
                        11. Bijou 3:36
                        12. The Show Must Go On 4:24
                        * CD Version.

                        Personal Opinion On Each Song

                        This is a brilliant opening track for the album. A great opening drum beat, then the wonderfully powerful voice of Freddie kicks in, brilliant! The song progresses until you get the Flamenco part of the song were Freddie softens his voice to almost ballad like. The flamenco music is brilliant and builds into a great finale. The lyrics are profund and hard hitting. A wonderful return to form. 10/10. Released as a single.

                        ** I'M GOING SLIGHTLY MAD**
                        Another powerful musical opening, a good drum beat throught with great strings. Freddie again delivers an oustanding performance, the song is almost spoken rather than sung. Lyrically is brilliant. The song is believed to represent the AIDS induced dementia that Kenny Everett incurred during the final years of his life. The video that accompanys this song is truely brilliant, its quirky and strange and a sight to behold. 9/10. Released as a single.

                        ** HEADLONG***
                        I love this song! what an introduction, the guitar and drums are ponding from the start. A great rock intro! Freddie again as always delivers a great performance. Brain May's guitar rifts are brilliant. this song should be played loud!!! Lyrically is pure class. The vidoe for this song is class. 10/10. Released as a single.

                        ** I CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT YOU**
                        A great intro as is now standard with this album. This song is not one of my favourites. It's a bit wet and the backing vocals of Brian May and Roger Taylor dont really add to the song. Its a little cheesy. 6/10

                        ** DON'T TRY SO HARD**
                        This is a much softer song. The musical arrangement is wonderfully soft at the beginning but then builds as the song progresses. Freddies voice is soft and warm. Lyrically its great. The song shifts between a ballad and a rock song with ease. A good song delivered as only Freddie can. 8/10

                        **RIDE THE WILD WILD WIND**
                        A great electric guitar introduction. Its a heavily drum beat and rhythmic bass line influenced song. The lyrics are again practically being spoken by Freddie. There is a great guitar rift midway through the song. Lyrically its not brilliant, but this does not detract from the quality of the song. 8/10

                        ** ALL GOD'S PEOPLE**
                        Not one of the stronger songs on the album. Its very operatic in its theme, its dramatic and big. Freddie as always delivers and again the musical arrangement is very good indeed. A lot of the song is sung in counterpoint with Brian May. Its a steady song thats never going to blow you away. Its a standard filler song in my opinion. 7/10

                        **THESE ARE THE DAYS OF OUR LIVES**
                        A brilliant drum introduction, it just stes the thyme from the off. A brilliant bass line and a stonkingly good guitar rift midway through. Btilliant. The lyrics are outstanding, they are a reflection on Freddies life. As a Queen fan its almost impossible to listen to this song without a lump in your throat, the video that accompanys this song its wonderful tribute to the great man.
                        Possibly my favourite song on the album and indeed one of my favourite Queen songs os all time. The song its self is just about perfect. 10/10 Released as a single.

                        This song is actually about Freddies cat and there is me thinking he did not like pussy....cats. Innuendo?
                        This is an upbeat song. It has a good beat but it just lacks something, probably due to the fact that you know its about a cat. That aside again as a musical arrangement and with Freddie's singing its still an average song. Again it has a great guitar rift and a good baseline throughout. The Meowing, yes Meowing! in the song for me spoils it, just no need. 7/10

                        ** THE HITMAN**
                        A proper rack track, what a great introduction. Got to be played loud. Freddie delivers such raw power in the lyrics, the backing singing by Brian May is great, as is his guitar rift. Lyrically is good nothing to shout home about, but the whole package together its a great rock song from the guys. 9/10

                        A great guitar introduction, brilliant. Its a great pwerful ballad. Freddies delivery of his very few lines is awe inspiring. The song is not burdened with words as musically its astounding, the guitar is just fantastic. Its easy listening and show off their musical/instrument talents to the full. Highly recommend this track. n10/10

                        **THE SHOW MUST GO ON**
                        This song coupled with " These are the days of our lives" are so poignant. In this song which was written by Brian May you feel as though you are being told that the story must continue.
                        The introduction with the guitar and drums is brilliant. Freddie's voice delivers such emotion is almost unbelievable. Lyrically is so sad and poignant. Its a great song that sums up all that is good and great about Queen. The video really hits home that Freddie is losing his batlle with AIDS. My words cant do this song justice, listen to what Freddie says, he says it all so much better than I ever could. 10/10


                        What an album. As a final studio album of original material and the last one recorded whilst Freddie was alive its perfect. It has all that you could want in a Queen album, Rock, ballads, great lyricas, great bass and some kick ass guitar rifts. All members contribute songs and sing on this album. Its such a shame that this was the last album that they recorded together. For me the poignancy of some of the tracks is astounding. Their desire to make great music for their fans right to the end is the work of true masters of their craft, with a devotion to their fans thats more than just empty words. Almost every track is a masterpiece, the stand out tracks for me are: These are the days of our lives, Bijou, Headlong and rather poignanlty The show must go on. As the band tells us....." The Show Must Go On"

                        Yes Yes Yes, buy this album, Queen fan or not. You wont regret it!

                        Album Information

                        Studio album by Queen
                        Released 5 February 1991
                        Recorded 1990, 1991
                        Metropolis Studios, London, England
                        Mountain Studios, Montreux, Switzerland
                        Genre Rock
                        Length 53:44
                        Label Parlophone
                        The album cover was designed by Queen and Richard Gray. The booklets and single covers from the album are by Grandville, or are inspired by his illustrations.

                        You Tube

                        I have posted some links below to allow you to enjoy the videos that accompany the tracks. Hopefully this will help you to decide if you wish to purchase the album, or if like me you already own it, you can just enjoy the great vides.

                        These are the days of our lives- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mRwG5LoSvwQ

                        The Show Must Go On - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ADh8Fs3YdU


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                        • More +
                          24.02.2010 17:38
                          Very helpful




                          The definitive biography of Fred Dibnah


                          This book was bought for me by my mother in law for Christmas. She know that I have always liked Fred Dibnah. Being from Bolton, I have often rode my bike past his famous house and backyard. Its quite a site and today still attracts visitors. Below are my thoughts on the biography of Fred by David Hall.

                          ABOUT THE AUTHOR
                          David Hall is probably best known as the TV producer of Freds recent TV Programmes. As well as producing the TV programmes he has writen the titles below to accompany the programmes.

                          Fred Dibnah's Industrial Age
                          Fred Dibnah's Magnificent Monuments
                          Fred Dibnah's Age of steam
                          David Hall was Fred Dibnah's TV producer for many years, he soon became a close friend of the family. He made all of Fred's most recent television series and is credited withe the revival of Fred's TV Career.

                          This is the first book that I have read by David Hall.

                          The book is broken down into two main parts. Part one is titled " The Working Man" and part two is titled "The Working Man's Hero".Part one has 6 chapters and part two has 10 chapters.

                          Part one deals with his early life. His childhood in Bolton and his early TV success.
                          Part two deals with when Fred and David met and then worked together.

                          The book as the title suggests is the definitive biography of the late, great Fred Dibnah. The straight talking, flat cap wearing, down to earth working northern man. From his childhood upbringing in Bolton, through his early days as a joiner and onto his TV celebrity success. It details his highs, lows, his loves,losses his battle with fame and illness.

                          PERSONAL THOUGHTS ON THE BOOK
                          I enjoyed the book from the start. The opening paragraph has Fred discribing his house as " a coronation street style house" This for me sets the tone for the whole book. its in plain English for all to enjoy. Or perhaps as Fred might have said " Tell it straight with nowt fancy added"

                          Its extremely well written and go into fine detail about Fred's early life. There are countless amusing stories of the scrapes that Fred got into. How he climbed up a 200ft chimney to hang a flag to win a bet, or how he stored his "plunder" from the Bolton-Bury canal is his mams back yard. The plunder was odds and ends caught on a make shift rod from the bottom of the Bolton to Bury canal.
                          Fred was married three times and once you have read this book you can probably understand why! The book gives an insight into some of the reasons why, his drinking, chain smoking and of his selfishness. Fred had, most would say old fashioned in his views on marriage and how a family should work. Fred is simple in his views about family life, this is the main theme throughtout the book. Keep it simple. I will let you be the judge about this particular chapter in the book.

                          The final chapters are particularly poingnant, Freds illnes is sensetively dealt with. His desire to continue working and imparting his vast knowledge about industrial Britain shines through.
                          David Hall has been fair in this book, it really is a warts and all biography. There is an insight into the private Fred that was never really seen on TV.


                          As mentioned earlier this is the first book I have read by David Hall. Therefore I had an open mind when I began this book. I have always admired Fred and can say that I have seen all the programmes made with Fred.
                          I thought the TV programmes would aid me when reading the book, as for the majority of the book I believe that I already had the pictures in my mind to accompany the words. The part that I was really interested in was the pre TV life were I have no pre concept of his life.

                          The book certainly is complete, it details Fred's life from a young lad in Industrial Bolton through adolescence onto his early working life, love, marriage, divorce, his TV fame and his untimely death in November 2004.
                          It is well written, you can feel the close friendship that they obviously had and indeed I believe you can feel the loss in David at Freds passing. in writing this book I believe that he is trying to keep Fred's memory and spirit alive for future generations to enjoy.

                          You can't help but feel that Fred was born too late and missed his real era in the age of steam and Queen Victorias reign. This would have suited his ideas on family and how a wife should behave!
                          I found this biography of Fred extremley well written, enjoyable, funny and in parts sad.

                          SHOULD YOU BUY THE BOOK?

                          Yes. I would recommend this book strongly to all, you dont have to be a fan of Fred to enjoy this book. Its a honest account of a national treasure.

                          MORE INFORMATION
                          Category: Biographies
                          Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd
                          Publication date: 1 March 2007
                          Number of pages: 448
                          Publisher's price: £7.99
                          Author David Hall
                          ISBN 9780552154888


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                          • More +
                            19.02.2010 08:38
                            Very helpful




                            Whilst on my honeymoon, (a cruise around the Med) we had a stop off for a couple of days in Naples. As my wife loves to plan trips she arranged for us to visit Pompeii. I must admit I was delighted, as strange as it may seem Volcano's, Earthquakes and natures natural events fascinate me. Pompeii its myths and legends have fascinated me since my childhood this way the perfect day trip for me!

                            Below are our thoughts on our day wonderful trip to Pomeii:


                            Pompeii is situated the Italian region of Campania, near Naples. Pompeii is the famous city that was destroyed by a the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. Herculaneum, Pompeii's lesser famous sister city was also destroyed in the erruption. Pompeii is by far the more famous of the two cities, and generally people are only aware of the destruction of Pompeii.

                            To appreciate a visit to Pompeii I feel that a brief insight into its history is very important. This will allow you to guage the true catastrophy that befell Pompeii and it inhabitants.

                            The city was founded around the 7th-6th century BC it was an important port and was used primarily to forward goods to Rome or Southern Italy. This led to Pompeii's wealth, also its strategic importance in the area for these reasons Pompeii has been fought over and changed hands for many centuries. Eventually Pompeii was conquered by Rome in around 80 BC it remained under Roman control until the erruption.
                            The erruption lasted for 2 days, the city of Pompeii was completely buried under around 20 meters of pumice and ash.

                            Pompeii was rediscovered in 1748 by chance. From the subsequent excavations of Pompeii its clear that it was a prosperous city. Large parts of Pompeii are still buried so there is still more to learn about Pompeii, its history and its people.
                            Pompeii is located about 8 km (5 miles) away from Mount Vesuvius.

                            Our Visit


                            We docked in the the port of Naples, recently is more famous for La Cosa Nostra, The Mafia! So after having sent the wife to check the coast was clear I decided to disembark the cruise ship, her leading from the front of course!! Forward as one!!!
                            Naples is horrendous for traffic. Its possibly the worst place I have ever seen apart from Kabul! we literally walked for the best part of a mile to find a place to cross the main road which runs parallel to the port.

                            We decided to take the train to Pompeii. From the exit of the port to the train station is around a 30 min walk, you can get a taxi or a bus, but the weather was fine so off we went. Pompeii
                            Pictures of Pompeii
                            Mount Vesuvius very imposing in the background! ..is on the Circumvesuviana line running from Naples to Sorrento. The train is of course crowded as most people on the train are tourist and heading for Pompeii. Ticket prices are very reasonable a return is around Euro5 per person and the journey time is around thirty mins.
                            The station at Pompeii itself is very small but its very hard to miss your stop. The entrance to Pompeii is only a couple of minutes walk away from the train station however, in that couple of minutes you are bombarded by locals trying to sell you lots of tat to be honest. The only thing you should buy is the frozen bottled water. Temperatures in the summer regulary top 30 degrees. The water is a god send after a few hours walking. If you do decide to buy anything haggle! They make their prices up so haggle and get the best deal you can.

                            ***There are facilities at the station to leave items that you do not wish to carry around Pompeii, this is advisable as you will spend all your time walking, but the main reason is to keep your valuable safe from pickpockets and thieves***

                            Inside Pompeii
                            After braving the locals trying to sell me enough tat for a car boot sale we entered Pompeii through the city gate called "Porta Marina". The entrance as you would expect can be quite busy but generally the waiting time is short. The cost of admission was Euro10 for EU citizens. For Euro20 you can get a ticket which allows access to 5 sites in total, Pompeii, Herculaneum, Stabiae, Villa Poppaea and Oplontis. We just had the standard ticket for Pompeii.

                            Tour guides near the entrance will try and get you to hire them. I personally would advise against this. I believe that you will get more out of your trip by exploring Pompeii yourselves.
                            Get a map, Free maps and info booklets are given away at the entrance

                            Be prepared for a lot of walking. There is no sort of mechanical modes of transport in Pompeii so to get around Pompeii you have to use Shank's Pony (walking basically). The roads are difficult to say the least, they are un-even and basically cobblestones. Good quality footwear is a must as the roads do take it out on you feet. The area is hilly and in the height of summer it can be quite tiring, stick with it though its well worth it. You will need to watch your footing through! Its pretty dodgy.
                            Navigating around Pompeii is difficult but not impossible. The roads and alleyways criss cross the city. A map is a must as you dont want to ruin your visit by being lost and getting frustrated. Be aware that the city is a lot bigger than you probably imagine, allow a good 6 hours to see Pompeii, even then I am convinced you will not have seen the majority of it.

                            Once up the hilly part and actually into the city you can see the true splendor of Pompeii. Lavish buildings adorn the more affluent streets. Be aware that the pavements are considerably higher than we are used to, this was to allow waste and water to flow down the streets, there are huge stepping stones which were used to get from one side of the street to the to avoid stepping in all the waste!
                            There are many things to see in Pompeii, I will list below some of the main attractions, but I wil give my opinion on the actual buildings and sites we saw.

                            Not all of the buildings allow access, almost any time you visit some buildings will be closed for renovation. Also others are gated/barred from the public due to their contents. You can still look through the windows and see just what the building was like and used for.
                            A lot of the finer buildings still have original frescoes and mosaics, both on the walls and the floors. The detail and skill that went into producing these for decoration is astounding. It makes our laminate floor look decidedly more tacky than I already think it is!

                            There are all the amenities that you might expect to find on a modern high street today let alone almost 2000 years ago. There are the ruins of bakeries,bars, public baths. There are also the ruins of an Amphitheatre, Basilica (the law court and economic centre) and much more.
                            You can go into the vast majority of the buildings. Inside you can see and touch how it was done many hundreds of years ago, indeed somethings have changed very little over the centuries. The bakery has what we would recognise as a stone oven and the bars have stone counters. You can clearly see how they lived and worked.

                            One of the most interesting places for me was a building that is being used as a type to storage area for artifacts from Pompeii. There are hundreds of items from casts of people, pots even casts of animals. It really is surreal to see shelf upon shelf of these items. People litterally cast in the position they fell. You can not touch them as they are safely behind bars and a locked gate, then again I am not sure I would want to.
                            Pompeii's Amphitheatre of is the oldest surviving Roman amphitheatre. The Amphitheatre was the first built in stone by the Romans, previousAmphitheatre's were built from wood and as such have not survived. The Amphitheatre's is still used occasionally today, but for a completely different type of entertainment. It truely is a wonderful sight. Walking around it you get a true feel of its size and the noise that would have been generated by the crowds.

                            Many parts of Pompeii have not been uncovered, there is still much to see. From what I can gather local politics are stopping further excavation.
                            Hopefully someday they will uncover all of Pompeii. You can walk over the areas that are still buried.
                            Some of the main attractions

                            Main Entrance - Town walls, fortifications, gates
                            Forum - Market, shopping area
                            Forum Baths (Terme del Foro) - Health spa
                            House of Menander - Manor house
                            House of Pansa - Manor house
                            House of Sallust - Paintings, art collections
                            House of the Faun (Casa del Fauno) Manor house
                            House of the Gilded Cupids - Garden display
                            House of the Tragic Poet (Casa del Poeta tragico)
                            House of the Vettii
                            Necropolis - Cemetery
                            Painting of Venus
                            Stabian Baths (Terme Stabiana) - Health spa
                            Street of Tombs -Tombs, burial site
                            Villa of Diomedes-Manor house
                            Villa of the Mysteries (Villa dei Misteri)
                            Via dell'Abbondanza
                            Large Theater (Teatro Grande)
                            Little Theater (Teatro Piccolo)

                            There are many places to eat both inside and outside Pompeii. We actually had a packed lunch however there are:

                            Pizza Resteraunts
                            Local Vendors
                            The prices in the main are more expensive but this is to be expected in a tourist hotspot. I would advise if possible cater for yourselves.


                            We did not stay in any accommodation in the area however the following is available:
                            Hotel MaiuriIn (4 Star) a few minutes walk from the Pompeii excavations and the center of town.
                            Single Per Night Euro65
                            Double Per Night Euro 85


                            Train: The cost of the train depends on the day and time you use it but, generally its around Euro5.
                            Entrance: when we visited it was Euro10. I would imagine there has been a slight increase now. This is excellent value for money in my opinion. For Euro20 you can get a ticket which allows access to 5 sites in total, Pompeii, Herculaneum, Stabiae, Villa Poppaea and Oplontis. If you are in te area for a couple of days this is the option I would advise.

                            Guides: Not something we used but I believe that haggling is an option.
                            Autoguide (headphones) Around Euro6,50 or Euro10 for two.

                            Food/Drink: As expected the prices are inflated. I would advise if practicable for you to bring a packed lunch. Its cheaper and you can eat it on the go.

                            They made a great effort to cater for the needs of the tourist. They have provided excellent toilet facilities which are extremely clean. The is also a food court that whilst it is expensive it on par with the local facilities.

                            This site is not for people who have difficuly with walking or are wheel chair bound. Its just to ardous to get around. I would advise against taking small children and in particular children in prams.
                            There are tour guides provided but at quite a considerable cost. There is also an audio guide available for around Euro6,50 or Euro10 for two,. You will need to provide identification to secure the use.


                            Find out more at www.pompeiisites.org

                            TV Programmes
                            There have been several TV dedicated to Pompeii and its fate, in particular the recent BBC programme. Whilst dramatic licence has been used to recreate events, people and buildings, it does not do justice to a visit to the real thing. My advice forget the programme just go and visit.


                            I strongly recommend that if you get the chance, visit Pompeii, you will not be dissapointed. From the moment you enter Pompeii to the moment you leave the atmosphere is palpable. Only when you visit can you really understand the scene, you can truely imagine the pain and anguish the citizens endured. Also teh size, wealth and infastrucrture of Pompeii. The buildings, frescoes, mosaics and artifacts are astounding. The scenery is in places quite breath taking, standing in Pompeii with Vesuvius is background is quite a sight.
                            The buildings, artifacts and how they have been preserved are a credit to the Italians. They clearly have respect for Pompeii and its inhabitants. Its like entering a time warp into another civilisation.

                            TOP TIPS
                            Ensure you have plenty of water.
                            Beware of Pickpockets
                            Good Walking Footwear
                            Camera is a must
                            Barter were possible
                            Allow 6 hrs for your visit


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                            • Blood Diamond (DVD) / DVD / 102 Readings / 98 Ratings
                              More +
                              18.02.2010 10:45
                              Very helpful



                              Well worth a viewing.


                              The title refers to blood diamonds, which are diamonds mined in African war zones and sold to finance Warlords their conflicts, and the diamond companies across the world.

                              The film is set against the backdrop of civil war and chaos of 1990's Sierra Leone, Blood Diamond is the story of Danny Archer - an ex mercenary from Zimbabwe - and Solomon Vandy - a Mende fisherman.

                              ***Warning some scenes of graphic violence

                              ===Basic Plot===

                              **The plot I have outlined below is very basic so as to not contain any spoilers**

                              The film is based around three main charaters, Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio), Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounsou) and Maddy Bowen (Jennifer Connelly).

                              Set in Sierra Leone the films tells of Archer a diamond hunter, basically he would sell his Granmother for a diamond. He is constantly pursuing and trying to smuggle diamonds out of Sierra Leolna and onto the black market.

                              Solomon is a local who gets caught up in the diamond trade after the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels attack his village. They kidnap his family and send him off to work in the diamond fields.

                              Maddy is a journalist from America. She is hell bent on exposing the illegal diamond buisiness, and the corruption and that runs throught the Sierra Leone government.

                              As mentioned above this is the minimal information on about the plot to avoid spoiling the film for you.


                              I will deal with the three main characters here, DiCaprio, Hounsou and Connelley.

                              Both are DiCaprio and Connelly are considered big stars in Hollywood. DiCaprio is better known and the bigger star in this film.

                              DiCaprio's performance is strong, showing how much he has matured over the years and films. The main bug bear I have with his acting in this film is the god awful accent he uses. I know that the South African accent is not the easiest to pull off but his just grates me. I found myself wanting to cover my ears everytime he opened his mouth. I also find it a little hard to stomach him playing the hard man. its just not him. These two points aside he is very good in this film. He is believeable and he carries the film well.

                              Jennifer Connelly is one of my favourite actors. She is underated in Hollywood as far as I am concerned. She delievers another solid support performance here. I have admired her from the first time I saw her in Labryinth.

                              For me the real star is Hounsou, he steals the film. Every scene that he is in that requires emotion he nails it. He easily outshines DiCaprio. A star of the furure.


                              Leonardo DiCaprio ... Danny Archer
                              Jennifer Connelly ... Maddy Bowen
                              Djimon Hounsou ... Solomon Vandy
                              Kagiso Kuypers ... Dia Vandy
                              Arnold Vosloo ... Colonel Coetzee
                              Antony Coleman ... Cordell Brown
                              Benu Mabhena ... Jassie Vandy
                              Anointing Lukola ... N'Yanda Vandy
                              David Harewood ... Captain Poison
                              Basil Wallace ... Benjamin Kapanay
                              Jimi Mistry ... Nabil
                              Michael Sheen ... Rupert Simmons
                              Marius Weyers ... Rudolf Van De Kaap
                              Stephen Collins ... Ambassador Walker
                              Ntare Mwine ... M'Ed


                              Yes I strongly recommend this films. there are a few bits that are slightly frustrating, but they dont detract from the overall quality of the film. DiCaprio. The film conveys the best and worst of the human race in a very personable way.

                              The film has a serious underlying message which is delivered in a way that it so that it does not become the only thing you will remember. Its a quality film that you will be glad that you took the time to watch. Good solid performances from the cast aid this story of struggle.

                              Highly Recommended.

                              ===Other Information===

                              Rated: 15
                              Running Time: 143 minutes
                              Released in 2006.


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                              • The Hurt Locker (DVD) / DVD / 85 Readings / 83 Ratings
                                More +
                                16.02.2010 15:43
                                Very helpful



                                Worth a viewing

                                As with a review I have done previously (Full Metal Jacket) as a soldier, films like this interest me but, I can be rather picky!

                                Plus having served with a bomb disposal team (yes I really have) even more so. I will try to leave aside my real life knowledge and go with the "dramatic Licence" used in the film.

                                The film is set in the post-invasion period in Iraq. Its tell the story of a team of 3 soldiers who have the uneviable task of disposing of IED's.


                                ***I HAVE GIVEN THE BASIC PLOTLINE TO AVOID SPOILERS***
                                The three main characters are Staff Sergeant William James, Sergeant JT Sanborn and Specialist Owen Eldridge.

                                SSgt James is sent to replace SSgt Thompson, who was killed by a RCIED in Baghdad. His arrival causes problems from the outset within Bravo Company Bomb Disposal Team. His two subordinates, Sgt Sanborn and Spc Eldridge are dismayed at the reckless attitude of their new leader, especially as they only have thirty-nine days left on their current deployment . They reach this conclusion after he approaches an IED before deploying his RC Robot (Wheelbarrow in the UK). SSgt James to them appears to have a death wish and little or no regards for himself or his team members. The story tell of their individual struggle with the most basic of human emotions in this complicated and stressful environment.

                                Jeremy Renner ... SSgt. William James
                                Brian Geraghty ... Spc. Owen Eldridge
                                Anthony Mackie ... Sgt. JT Sanborn
                                Guy Pearce ... Sgt. Matt Thompson
                                Ralph Fiennes ... Contractor Team Leader
                                David Morse ... Colonel Reed
                                Evangeline Lilly ... Connie James
                                Christian Camargo ... Col. John Cambridge
                                Suhail Aldabbach ... Black Suit Man
                                Christopher Sayegh ... Beckham
                                Nabil Koni ... Professor Nabil


                                All three main characters deliver great performances. Believable tense potrayals of the life of a IED team, the stresses, strains and fears involved in this line of work. For me Jeremy Renner delivers the standout performance. He makes gives a performance that makes you believe fully in his portrayal of an IED operator . His air of superiority, his total disregard for everything and everyone, until (rather predictably) he finds himself caught up in the reality of the situation he and his team are in.

                                Special Effects
                                The special effects in the film are great and really add to the sense of reality and excitement. The balance of special effects is just about right, they enhance the film rather than overpower it. Lets be honest if we could we would all like to blow stuff up if we could.

                                Other Information

                                Running Time :131 min
                                Classification: 15

                                Its a much hyped film, but for me it lives up to the hype in the main but, as alluded to earlier having actually done the job myself i am very picky. As with most films of this genre its has a rather large amount of "dramatic licence" when dealing with the reality of a bomb disposal team and life in a bomb disposal team.

                                For the first half an hour it would seem that SSgt. James isI untouchable parading around without a care in the world, this initial part of the film is a bit silly and very unrealistic . Does this detract from the overall quality of the film, its contents and acting? Well in short the answer is no. It is what it is. Films of this nature are there to entertain and not a "true" story.
                                The screenplay (by Mark Boal) is based on his own experiences of working alongside soldiers in Iraq. This is evident in certain areas in the film and lends a lot of realism , but the film for me is not a complete success. Its ptchy in places, occasionally stumbling along, with at times a poor narrative. Strong acting by the three main characters just about pulls the film through the patchy parts. Would I recommend this film? Yes. But with a pinch of salt and a forgiving eye.

                                War is hell!


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                                • More +
                                  14.02.2010 14:06
                                  Very helpful



                                  Its an ok album.

                                  I recieved this album as a birthday gift after stating that I "quite like this song" not so sure it was my greatest statement ever.

                                  Below are my thoughts on the fifth studio album from Jonas Erik Altberg better know as Basshunter.

                                  Swedish DJ/Producer Jonas Erik Altberg or, as he was better known by the pseudonym Basshunter. Then again after his recent airing on celebrity Big Brother he is probably known equally as well as Jonas, the guy that fell head over heels for Katia.

                                  Basshunter has only really come to the fore since 2008, after the huge hit Now You're Gone, most people are unaware that he has been making music for around 10 years.
                                  He discribes his sound as "Eurodance" Personally I dont have a clue what that means! Maybe I am just getting old!

                                  Singing/Song Style

                                  Well basically, he does not have a great voice, but then again with this type of music there really is no need to me a great singer. The music carries the lyrics rather than the lyrics carrying the music. On this album there are several female singers who in general have a better quality voice than Jonas.
                                  The music is electronic and heavily synthesised thats all you can say really. Its catchy and loud and I guess thats all its meant to be.

                                  Track Listing

                                  Disc 1
                                  1. Every Morning
                                  2. I Promised Myself
                                  3. Why
                                  4. I Will Learn To Love Again Feat. Stunt
                                  5. Don't Walk Away
                                  6. I Still Love
                                  7. Day & Night
                                  8. I Can't Deny
                                  9. Far From Home
                                  10. I Know U Know
                                  11. On Our Side
                                  12. Can You
                                  13. Plane To Spain
                                  14. Every Morning (Michael Mind Remix Edit)
                                  15. Numbers

                                  Disc 2
                                  1. Now You're Gone (Feat. DJ Mental Theo's Bazzheadz) (DJ Alex Extended Mix)
                                  2. All I Ever Wanted (Ultra DJs Remix)
                                  3. Angel In The Night (Headhunters Remix)
                                  4. I Miss You (Hyperzone Remix)
                                  5. Please Don't Go (Bad Behaviour Remix)
                                  6. Walk On Water (Ultra DJs Remix)
                                  7. Every Morning (Raindropz! Remix)
                                  8. Camilla (Swedish Version)
                                  9. Without Stars (Swedish Version)

                                  Normally I would give an insight into each song on the album, but with dance music there isnt much point. The lyrics may change slightly on each track but the basic beat/tune is the same. There are a few stand out tracks on the album, Now You're Gone,Every Morning, I Promised Myself and All I Ever Wanted. Aside from these tracks the rest is largely forgetable unless you are playing it loud or are in a nightclub.

                                  Well, it is what it is. Its catchy,cheesy Eurodance. Yes there are a few good main stream/commercial songs on the album, Now You're Gone and All I Ever Wanted. Indeed the success of the album is largely based on these tracks.

                                  Its an album for the younger generation, or those trying to hang onto their youth. Its fun,vibrant and in parts will get you tapping your feet but the album certainly wont stand the test of time, but its ok as far as dance music goes. Its best played loud or listened to in a nightclub after several beers. This helps numb the pain!

                                  Yes, while/if you are still young enough to enjoy it.

                                  Other Information

                                  The CD release ( with two discs) is better value. The first disc is as per the iTunes release; the second disc features a selection of remixes from this and previous albums, this is where some of the better songs are.


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