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While all your mates were playing Super Mario or Sonic, your parents decided a computer with some educational value was required, so they bought you an Amiga 500. Under the guise of being educational, you eventually realised you could emulate the console market with James Pond: Robocod - a platform game which matched Mario and Sonic in graphics and playability.
There is no hidden agenda with this game - it is a simple scrolling platform game and your ultimate mission is to "save penguins". It is a jingly-jangly blur of collecting stars and jumping over turtles and other furry animals, in an angonising determination to get to the next level. There were cheats aplenty, listed in the various Amiga magazines, which actually served to make the game more exciting.
It was all a bit cutesy when put head to heat with the mainstream Sonic. The festive theme, which prevailed throughout the game, became utterly overdone, repetitive and ultimately, annoying.
It came on several 3.5 inch floppy discs and was available on various formats, including Sega and Atari - although with differing graphics and sound quality. For the time, the game was amongst the best of Amiga's output and the name lives on within various platforms, including the Nintendo DS.
Part of the Revolution Vodka chain, I have always been torn by this bar. My visits are seldom but every time I do go in, I can't help but think what a fingers up to religion it is. The pub was converted from a tired old church and the conversion is modern and aesthetically pleasing but not in keeping with the historical or religious background of the building. A giant (what looks to be inflatable) cross is hanging in the main pub and is the only reminder of the buildings former days. Originally the pub was named The Pulpit and got into a lot of hot water from the Gloucestershire Echo, when the owners decided to controversially rename it the Pull Pit for a brief period in the 1990s.
At night the bar is a heaving mass of sweaty bodies and the long bars and numerous barmen do little to ease the congestion amongst the mainly student visitors. Waiting for a drink can be a tedious affair. There are numerous snug corners with comfortable leather sofas, though the music is all too often loud and distracting. You'll be lucky not to be sat directly next to a large speaker blasting out the DJs favourite tunes.
A quite area, which could have been established upstairs, would have been a welcome sight...or maybe I am just far too old for this pre club venue. The cocktails are a speciality in this pub and, though expensive, the barmen are accomplished at showing off their skills.
During the day, the bar becomes a more appealing location with decent Wetherspoons-style pub grub becoming the norm. It is only then, can you appreciate the decor and grandeur of the building that once was. In all, the pub, which must rank as one of the largest in Cheltenham, is well worth a visit.
Opened in the late 1990s, and formerly a garage, Wetherspoons did a grand job in the conversion process. However, it was all down here from there. The idea was novel: a music-free zone where you could sit and chat on a Saturday night.
And then JD Wetherspoons made a mistake and introduced music, large screen televisons and DJs, turning the appeal of the pub into something completely different. Now, Moon Under Water is a shadow of its former self, catering mainly for teenagers and students en route to the clubs. The result is usually a hotbed of violence and disruption. The Echo reported just recently on a huge riot that took place in the pub after a recent football match, describing the scene as something akin to a Western-style bar-room brawl. There are still some oldies hanging on til the bitter end, desperately hoping the pub returns to the glory days before Sky Sports and cheesy DJs aplenty.
Perhaps the only advantage to the pub, and the chain as a whole, is the rock-bottom prices of various drinks. Pitchers of Pimms for £5 is certainly a crowd pleaser. However, this "quality" pales into comparison when you find yourself sipping your drink while sat at a sticky table, on a grime-ridden floor, surrounded by the local chav brigade looking for a fight.
It's sad top see how this award winning pub chain has sold out to the mass appeal of students and sport. The resulting pub has lost its way and become a clone of any other sports bar in town.
Various review sites scared me when I agreed to purchase this TV for a bargain-bucket price of £190 in September 2009. However, the reviews proved fruitless. The TV pretends to be nothing else but a feature-free, cheaply-built TV - and that's just fine with me.
The picture quality and resolution is perfect unless you happen to be watching at an angle - in which case you have to manually turn the brightness up to compensate for the LCD shortcomings. The built in Freeview and DVD player was the biggest draw for me - no more untidy cables and plug gangs scattered across the floor.
The Nicam stereo sound quality isn't fantastic if you're watching in a church hall; but lets be fair - most people will be buying this TV for their bedrooms. For the ipod fanatics, the ability to "dock" the ipod (I had no idea what this meant before I bought the TV!) is a plus point and turns the television into a top quality music centre.
The digital text is predictably slow and cumbersome though, with the decline of the much-loved Ceefax/Telextext services, I have become all too used to this plight.
The TV comes nailed flat to a stand, which can not be detached from the screen itself. Not so bad if you're simply putting the set on a table, but looks utterly unsightly when attaching the TV to a wall.
I never thought I would hold on to a phone as long as this. Purchased the mobile through Orange in January 2009 for £80 and it is still in fabulous working order. I primarily bought the phone to replace my digital camera and the 3.2 megapixel snapper is ideal for nights out and day trips away, providing various snap-happy features, including white balance and auto focus, as well as the ability to morph the photo, should you really wish to do so.
The phone itself has all the features you would expect, including a music player, FM Radio, various dull games and internet access. Purchasing an inexpensive M2 memory card allows you to store upwards of 5000 photos on one phone!
The loudspeaker, like the majority of phones I have owned is of poor quality and simply needs to be louder but it is so little used, this does not affect the overall performance of the phone itself.
The build-quality of the phone is fantastic, with the original facia still looking as good as day one, despite the inevitable bumps and knocks. It's obviously beginning to look a little date now with the touchscreens and thinner, sleekier phones hitting the market. The screen size isn't huge; at least not in comparison to the new Sony counterparts. However, if the brick-style doesn't put you off, the phone will be an ideal purchase.
A fantastically good looking car, which shines brighter today than it did 15 years ago. I bought my 1996 MGF in red purely for the aesthetic quality of the car, which sliced through traffic looking like sexy and sleek.
It's no wonder that the car is classified as a "classic" by motor traders. However, though it was better looking than the similar-styled Mazda MX-5, it suffered from more problems. Unlike the MX5, the MGF was noisy and this was pretty much unbearable on the motorway, where the noise would combine with sharp rushes of air through the ill-fitting roof. Fuel economy really was quite good for a "sports car", averaging 500 miles from a fuel tank of £45.
The MGFs were notorious for the head gasket problems they suffered but thankfully mine didn't blow anything aside from a offside rear tyre. The ride height was annoyingly low and I would frequently ground myself on humps and bumps, with a ear-piercing metal-to-concrete scrape. You never felt like you could thrash this car around for fear of it falling apart which defeated the object of owning a sports car. It felt delicate and seemed to require more TLC than my current car, a Renault Clio. The roof came down very easily and after a wash and wax, the car looked like a dream, standing up to the sexy Jaguars and Mercedes on the road today. Forget the fact it is a Rover and remember it is an MG.
In all, the car looked fantastic but performed poorly and I was forever waiting for something to go wrong. Thankfully, I Clio-ed it before it had a chance to do so.
The 1980s ITV soap opera, Crossroads was actually filmed at this hotel though not many locals know that. Originally called The Golden Valley Hotel, the propieters sold out and became a Thistle a decade or so ago.
The hotel boasts a small but snug health club (Otium Leisure), a cosy bar and an exquisite restaurant, which has recently been revamped. The lounge areas are large and spacious with large screen TVs and internet access surrounding them. Spacious conference rooms provide enough space for the likes of Abba Tribute Concerts or the ubiquitous VI Form Balls that seem to hit town everytime I stay at this hotel. The hotel decor is bright and airy on the inside though suffers from a nasty 1970s newbuild render, impossible to hide behind the numerous trees and bushes.
Rooms are clean, spacious and exactly what you would expect from a Thistle. It isn't a Hilton, but it certainly isn't a Travellodge either. Staff are friendly and welcoming and appear proud to representing the Thistle brand. The location of the hotel is both a pro and a con. Simple to find, right off the M5 motorway, the hotel does suffer from noise pollution with the busiest roundabout in Cheltenham situated at its doorstep, alongside KFC, Travellodge and GCHQ. Horticulturists have done their best to hide the Thistle behind a wall of trees and bushes, but you still get the feeling you are sat in the middle of Piccadilly Circus at times. Depending on time of year, prices can often be lower than the Travelodge 50 yards across the road. I managed to secure a room for £49 in peak summer last year.
Without doubt, these beauties have changed my life. Prior to finding Air Optix Night and Day, I had been to the opticians to enquire about laser vision but was sent on my sorry way, having been told it would be impossible to have my eyes lasered for various reasons. He suggested I try monthly disposable lenses, a concept I had not ever heard of. With this, I did the research and two years later, I am thankful I did not waste thousands on laser surgery, when these do pretty much the same thing without the worrying aspect of having lasers shot in your eyes!
I put them in at the start of the month and forget about them for 30 days (often longer I'm scared to admit!). They are comfortable and never blurry except for infrequent visits to the steam room at the local health club.
I frequently get up at 4am to start work and in the past, trying to stuff some cheap contacts in my sleepy eyes was hazardous and frankly, never worked. This changed all that; meaning I could fall asleep with them on and wake up in them.
I don't feel like monthly disposables are ever marketed in quite the same way as other lenses and for that, I feel like a lot of people miss out on the sheer quality and convenience of these contacts. Yes, they are more expensive than standard daily lenses - I pay around £15 a month per pair (and have them imported from Sweden to save money).
Having owned a dozen or so cars over the last decade, I think I can safely say I have found a keeper with this little charm. My primary reason for buying the 2002 1.5 DCI Expression was fuel economy and this one has it. I had previously reserached other similar sized diesels including Corsas and Fiestas but this one came up trumps on MPG.
Last month, I managed to get 715 miles on a full tank of diesel (costing about £52). This equates to well above 70+mpg. With a commute of 100 miles a day, I am saving money like never before. The tax is an equally impressive £35 a year. My tip is to keep the car between 60-65mph on the motorway and you will save a good 20% in fuel economy compared to a cruise at 75+mph.
Aside from the obvious economic benefits of the Clio, the car is a very standard, not-too-plush, hatchback with a simple dashboard and basic features, including a radio cassette and electric windows. The ride is comfortable though noisy (much like any diesel) and the power steering is a dream with such a nimble car. Pulling away from roundabouts is a slow affair, especially when the primary reason for buying this car is to save money. However, you should not let that put you off this purchase because the advantages far outweigh the initial sluggish acceleration.
My only gripe, and it is something I am certain a lot of drivers would appreciate, is the lack of on-board trip computer as standard. I would like to vary my driving style accordingly to save money and a trip computer would have made this much easier. However, with my 715 miles on one tank, I really should not complain!
As a former employee of Trafficlink, I can certainly vouch for the oft-unseen professionalism of this regional workforce.
Trafficlink collects and provides the traffic and travel news for the majority of the commercial radio stations, as well as BBC radio and TV. When the travel rudely interupts your favourite CD while on a long journey, you can be pretty sure, the voice is coming from a Trafficlink team member, based in one of the 5 regional offices around the UK (Bristol, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Manchester, London).
The basic idea is that the Trafficlink broadcaster will "pretend" to be a part of the radio station you're listening to, whether it be Touch, Heart or BBC Berkshire. With varying degrees of success, the broadcaster will seek to "sound like a local", though the accent and mispronunciation of road names may make it apparent that the broadcaster has never even visited Berkshire, let alone know the county like the back of his/her hand.
With over 10 years worth of experience in the travel industry, Trafficlink broadcasters not only "read" the travel news, but also collate information and edit it using many sources. These range from council CCTV, Highways Agency cameras, police sources and "jamliners" who are often first to call in an accident from the scene itself.
However, providing travel news is an art, not an exact science. Trafficlink team members realise this but still provide top quality reports to a plethora of stations and data clients. Like any broadcaster, they are prone to slipups but the well-established team undergo several weeks of training in local landmarks, pronunciations and map-reading to bring them "up to speed"!
Reputed to be the oldest pub in Cheltenham, you certainly wouldn't know it upon walking in the premises. The exterior manages to mantain an oldy wordly rustic charm which hides a plush and modern interior within, with suitable mood-lighting throughout. Though many would find the recent refit too avant-garde for their liking, it has obviously been done to appeal to a growing market of students in the town...and it works!
Always a table and chair to be found, the pub serves a delightful selection of ales from friendly and pretty barmaids. At night, the pub becomes a favourite pre-club venue and is situated within easy staggering distance of Wetherspoons on Bath Road. In fact, the pub is wonderfully located on the edge of the town centre, to begin an evening down the High Street into Cheltenham.
The clientele are friendly clubgoers, doorstaff are approachable, and the music is a varied mix of current chart hits and niche RnB tunes.
Food is as you would expect from any decent pub with prices on par for Cheltenham. A hearty mix of burgers and fries, washed down with a Stella can all be done for around £8.
My only gripe is that it can become a little rough late at night. Smokers crowd round the little door down an adjacent side street; and the pub is a popular haunt for a drunken post-Wetherspoons mob.
Once upon a time this was the place to be seen and heard in Cheltenham. Previously known as Peppers, the bar had a facelift in the early 2000s, to become Copa, another faceless, unmemorable chain bar, but still popular on a warm summers night.
Food-wise, they serve a sold mix of hearty pub grub with some exotic favourites thrown in. Table service is fast and efficient while finding a table is never hard as the pub must rank among the largest in the town, situated conveniently close to the High Street and adjacent to the Everyman Theatre.
Drink is of an average price (for Cheltenham) with a variable mix of ales on sale from the extra-long bar in the main area, or a smaller, more intimate bar out the back. The outdoor terrace with numerous gas heaters is fantastic for the dwindling numbers of smokers left. Recently extended, the bar has now taken over the premises formely occupied by another student bar situated off County Court Road, giving Copa the convenience of two entrances.
By 8pm the pub becomes a still-popular pre-club venue with a generous mix of business execs and gregarious teenagers mingling to an eccletic mix of music. The pub has certainly lost some its charm since changing from Peppers but is a solid choice for a Saturday night on the tiles, especially if you're in dire need of a table and chair. Forget Wetherspoons nearby and spend a few more pennies to get quicker service at the bar, more varied food and a nicer bunch of characters on a night out!
Prezzo is taking the Italian restaurant market by storm - evident in Cheltenham, with two restaurants - one on the Promenade; the other in the new Brewery complex.
This, make no mistake, was one of the best restaurants I have visited. We ate at the Prezzo on the Promenade and were was immediately and warmly welcomed by a member of staff. She was pleasant and smiley. Our table was perfection, tucked away in a secluded part of the restaurant, which was beautifully decorated, understated but presented in a modern Italian style.
The food was top notch, freshly made cuisine, naturally imported direct from Italy. Specials included chargrilled butterflied chicken breast and beef tomato slices, baked in the oven with melted cheese and served with gratinated potatoes. They were presnted well and timely delivered. There is a wide selection of pizzas, including the imaginative and tasy quattro stagioni - pepperoni sausage, seasoned chicken, artichoke, mushroom and mozzarella. Always get a bowl of olives and some garlic bread as a starter - which go well with any Italian meal. Prices are not cheap with a typical 3-course meal about £30 and a bottle of white wine about £16.
The atmosphere was lovely, not too busy and well-mannered. i really could not fault anything. There was some subtle Italian music in the background, but nothing too overbearing, allowing for some nice chit-chat.
Another recently-opened posh bar in Cheltenham that doesn't pretend to be anything else but a classy, exclusive joint where jeans and trainers will see you led away.
Part of the George Hotel, Monty's Brasseries occupies a ground floor and basement location of the hotel. The bar itself is large and comfortable with long, leather sofas, mood lighting, a glittering bar and clean, polished surfaces throughout.
Everything is ultra-modern and ultra-priced, with a pint of Fosters costing near-on £4; and a vodka and coke about £3. They also do the most extensive range of cocktails I have seen; including the delicious "French 75" - Tanqueray, fresh lemon juice and sugar, shaken and topped with champagne
This is the domain of the businessman with after-work outings to Montys a regular feature for many a Cheltonian. Smart, sophisticated and classy, the average age of a vistor is 30-40.
Live bands are another regular feature of Montys Bar, though you won't see any Oasis tribute acts here. There are jazz nights aplenty and some lovely orchestral bands playing. All in all, a lovely place to unwind with your business execs (if you have any!). If you're after a yobby kinda night, don't bother coming here!
A spin-off of Treasure Hunt, BBC's Challenge Anneka was TV at its finest. Anneka Rice running around in a shell suit trying to accomplish a seemingly impossible task week-in, week-out. The tasks were usually done for charity, with the most famous being the emotional building of an oprhange in Romania.
They just don't make TV like this anymore. This was reality TV for the late 80s and was the first in a plethora of programmes that eventually led to the dire likes of DIY SOS and Ground Force. Anneka was made for the role and we got to see more shots of her backside as she ran around asking for help putting on a lame theatre production or building a children's play area.
There was no red-button; no live programme - just an hour of very carefully edited television every Saturday. It was fast-paced, action packed and kept the viewer involved throughout.
It was perefct TV and no, I dont have my rose-tinted glasses on. My only gripe was that you got the feeling there was more outside help than met the eye and some of the tasks seemed a bit too tidily completed, with little regard to "how" exactly she managed to obtain some goods in such little time. However, this is probably more to do with televisusal time constraints than anything else.
The show was eventually axed for reasons that I shall never fathom. If ever there was a show that should be brought back, it should be this. I miss the buggy more than anything else, which I heard was recently put up for sale on Ebay. Surely, the ideas are limitless with this show. Bring it back.