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melodysparksuk
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      28.09.2012 10:10
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      Nottingham's Goose Fair is one of Europe's largest, non fixed, mobile fun fairs

      Goosy, Goosy, Gander, to the Fair shall I wander
      Up and down the sideshows in a state of wonder
      Here I met a hawker his cries far and wide
      So I took upon his offer and climbed aboard his ride

      As the autumn nights start to draw in and you feel the nip of cold air towards the end of September, many people here in Nottingham begin to whisper the words "Goose Fair".

      To people, young and old alike, a hint of excitement fills the air in anticipation of one of city's much-loved events. This year, 2012 marks the 718th fair, to put it in simple terms; Nottingham's Goose Fair is one of Europe's largest, non fixed, mobile fun fairs, filled with thrilling rides, games, events, sideshows, and much, much more. For those of you who have been you will know exactly what I mean.

      From the first Wednesday each October for four days well over 1 million people visit the Forest Recreational Ground roughly 1 mile north of Nottingham City centre just off the A60 Mansfield Road and Gregory Boulevard to experience the thrills and excitement of one of the city's oldest traditions and largest social extravaganzas on the Nottingham events calendar. Millions of pounds exchange hands during those few seemingly short days but to the citizens of Nottingham and the surrounding area it is worth every penny.

      WHAT IS GOOSE FAIR

      At precisely 12.00 pm on Thursday 4 October 2012 in the company of the Sheriff of Nottingham, and other civic dignitaries, the Chief Executive and Town Clerk will read a Proclamation and the Lord Mayor will perform the Silver Bells ringing in ceremony before he/she "Walks the Fair" to officially open the much loved Nottingham Goose Fair.

      What, I hear you ask makes the Goose Fair so special? Well to the people of Nottingham it is not just a fun fair, it is tradition, a memorable occasion, a place to see and be seen, excitement, thrills, fun and games and an all out brilliant excuse to have a good time. The fair evokes memories of childhood with the cacophony of sound from music, engine noise, screams from the rides, hawkers calling you to come and try their ride, a dazzling display of millions of lights, rich mingled aroma of food and the delightful taste of candyfloss and toffee apples and hot dogs.
      But this is no ordinary fair its roots go back to the thirteenth century, if not before and is referred to as an established fair on the Feast of St Matthew in Edward I charter in 1284 and first mentioned by name in publications 1541.

      Showman from all over the country travel to the city bringing their amusements and rides joining in the large assemblage on 18 acres of sporting pitches and park and ride car park with the fringe fair area along the side streets.

      There are over 95 different rides and moving experiences for all ages including old favourites and many new attractions. This year some of the expected rides and thrills are Tsunami Roller coaster, making its first appearance at Goose Fair and that is already erected and hurtles you through of twists and turns. The Reverse Bungee that catapults you over 100 feet into the air although you will not get me on that. The 120 feet high, Big Ben Drop Tower where you ride to the tops and are dropped over 100 feet. Wild Water Rapids which is white water rafting up a 36 feet before shooting down a slide to crash into rough wild waters at the bottom. The Crazy Shake that will shake your bones until they turn to jelly. There are returning high-speed favourites such as Matter Horn, Frisbee, Hard Rock, Obiter, and Chaos for the thrill seekers amongst us all. Many of the traditional rides like the Carousel, the dodgems, the ghost train, and the house of fun, Helter Skelter, Swinging Chairs, waltzes, merry go rounds and everyone's favourite The Big Wheel (It has been known to have two wheels side by side on occasions).

      There are over 200 games and stalls calling out to you to have a try to test skills and luck these attractions are my favourites, I prefer the sideshows to the rides, There is hook a duck, roll a penny, bingo, penny arcades, hoopla, tombola, darts, coconut shies, and many other sideshow games. Here you can also find a plethora of food stalls catering to many tastes including, a mixture of foods from all over the world. Many favourites are be found there, chips, hamburgers and hot dogs, candyfloss and toffee apples, nougat and brandy snap, Grantham Gingerbread, coconuts, cock-on-a-stick, Nottingham's infamous hot mushy peas and mint sauce served in little round dishes with either faggots, or pies and gravy or as I like them on their own. Also are an assortment of seafood stalls offering mussels, prawns, crab stix, cockles and other marine favourites and not overly expensive.

      Fringe Fair sees attractions, gift and novelties stalls with all those cheap little, games, toys the kids love booths and fortune-teller caravans where you can always find the "Authentic Gypsy Rose Lee or Gypsy Rosa" line along the side streets surrounding the recreation ground.

      Preparation for this years fair began by the city planners in November last year only weeks after the previous event, booking the rides and stalls and organising ahead the transport facilities and security. The plots for the attractions have been marked out since August and during the last week the big rides, began setting up. I passed by yesterday and the large roller coaster is almost completely erected as is the Wild Water Rapids and this year looks to be one of the biggest fair the city has seen.
      Goose Fair has been immortalised by Nottingham born author Alan Sillitoe in his books Saturday Night, Sunday Morning that was later turned into a movie with Albert Finny. Alan Sillitoe's Nottinghamshire book: where he returns to his birth county to revisit the places of his youth, and in the 1955 movie 'A woman for Joe' the story of a fairground midget who falls in love with a local woman.

      HOW IT ALL BEGAN

      In the thirteenth century the Goose Fayre was far different from what we see today, to put it quite simply it was at that time an autumn market held in the Old Market Square. Guildsmen and traders erected makeshift stalls to ply their trade or sell their wares from cheeses, hams, bread and other food stuffs, farmers built pens holding the animals herds and geese in flocks, fat and ready for slaughter. Much of the produce was local and sold at the times where people stocked up for the coming winter. It is unknown exactly where the name originated but one favourite belief is from the geese farmers in the fens of Lincolnshire and Norfolk who drove their flocks of geese to the fayre in time for the feast of St Matthew and the up and coming winter celebrations.

      However as the years passed the fayre began to change, along came the minstrels and tumblers, the jugglers and the punch and Judy shows, acrobats and unusual animals turning the then 12 day market into an annual entertainment event. Comedians, clowns, dancing bears, bearded ladies were often seen and Madam Tussaud brought along her an exhibition from Wax Work Museum. However, the development of railways people did not have to travel so far to buy their stocks for winter and slowly the market side began to dwindle and the duration was reduced to 3 days.

      The fair began to adapt even more, with the development of steam power provided by large musical traction engines, steam-turned merry-go-rounds started to appear, along came novelty spectacles, cages of wild beasts never seen before in this country, theatrical wonders and entertainment and slowly the autumn market turned into a fun filled social event. With the advent of electricity attractions like pictures shows and the "new-fangled" camera obscurer, catapulted the fair into the 20th century. The rides became faster and bigger more sophisticated, noisier, more thrilling and the showground attractions became busier and larger until when in 1929 the fair needed to be moved to its present location, directly one mile north.

      GOOSE FAIR AND ME

      My memories of Goose Fair as a child are a muddled but I do remember my Mum taking my younger sister, brother, and I at night. I recall how we pushed our way through the crowds holding on to each other making our way weaving through the throng of stalls selling such heavenly delights as candyfloss and toffee apples. The ground beneath our feet was soft with the rain from the previous night and smell of the food and the diesel generators that powered the rides filled the air. The rides whirled around with the music of Suzie Quattro with Down at the Devil Gate Drive and Sweet with Blockbuster, Rod Stewart's Maggie May, Alice Cooper and School's Out and many other hits from the 70's.

      There were side shows attractions as 'Tiny Tim', 'Britain's Tallest Man' the two headed horse or the boxing booths and the wall of death where a motor bike rider raced his way around a small circuit with graduating walls until he was almost riding around the lip of the circuit. I remember the roll a penny game with the bright red painted slope and holes at the bottom where you hoped to win a prize if it went the right hole.

      Handling three growing children with the cries of "Can I go on this? Can I have that?" and trying to keep us all together so none of us would stray was a trying time for my Mum that I am sure she couldn't enjoy the occasion herself but I hope I have made up for that when I have taken her in the years since. Thanks Mum for a great childhood.

      Last year I took Mum and my friend and his son on the Saturday morning of the 2003 fair and we walked around taking in the atmosphere watching the little one have fun on the rides and just enjoying the event and watched how the site slowly became busier and busier.

      Memories are there of being jostled around on the roundabouts with the clanging of bells and tooting of whistles and my face becoming sticky by eating candy floss as I gazed around feeling a thrill flow through me at all I saw that even today I cannot forget and I still feel that thrill when I see the fair. It is crowded with thousands of people, I don't care. It is noisy filled with screams and throbbing music, I don't care! The flashing and whirling lights from the rides blind you and make you dizzy, look, I just don't care!! The smell is a mixture of food, heat, and generators, I DON'T CARE!!!! This is Goose Fair; I am here to have fun. I want to ride on the Big Wheel; I want to play hoopla and darts. I want to eat hot dogs and hot peas and get sticky with toffee apples and candyfloss. I want to have a good time.

      I know it sounds daft but Goose Fair brings out the child in you perhaps that is why it has lived and I do mean lived as long as it has. At night when the fair is in full, swing the air around pulses with life almost as if the showground is a being in its own right. The generators throb through the ground beneath your feet almost like a beating heart, the music and screams from the rides vibrate through you, the unique aroma from the different smells are like a heady perfume and the whole makes it special.

      Held annually from the first Wednesday of October for 5 days. Please note the dates vary each year.

      Admission is free but all rides and games are chargeable.

      Wednesday 3 October - 5.30pm - 11pm
      Thursday 4 October - 12noon - 11pm
      Friday 5 October - 11am - 11.30pm
      Saturday 6 October - 11am - 11pm
      Sunday 7 October - 1pm - 9pm

      There is no public parking available at the Goose Fair Site it is recommended visitors use public transport with regular buses from the city centre at a cost of £3.20 for a one person return running until midnight, however the popular Goose Rider ticket will also be available again this year offering tickets for up to 5 people (maximum 2 adults) for a return journey to Goose Fair on an NCT bus from anywhere on the NCT City bus network for just £4. Well worth the value right there. Also For just £5 per car, up to 6 people can get a return journey to Goose Fair from Queen's Drive Park and Ride, with buses running every 7-8 minutes at the busiest times on Friday and Saturday.

      Also available is the newly opened state-of-the-art NET tram, providing direct transport to the Fair. The tram offers free park & ride sites at Wilkinson Street, Bulwell, Phoenix Park, Moor Bridge, and Hucknall costing just £3.50 return per person or for a group or family up to two adults and three children you can purchase a Group Rider ticket for just £5.00. Just climb aboard and buy your ticket from the conductor. Be advised that the tram will be extremely full.

      Goosy, Goosy, Gander, to the Fair shall I wander... Will I be there again this year? There is no doubt about that!

      This review originally appeared on my Ciao account review site and is not copied from anyone else.

      Melodysparks(c) 2012

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        08.03.2012 15:26
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        Is this a Dinosaur I see before me? My Visit to the London Natural History Museum

        I am fascinated with history and feel at home in Museums, I am one of those people who you would guarantee to visit the local Museum when on holiday or for the sheer fun of a day out visit a Museum in another city, and this was one of those days. Mum and I went to London and visited a Museum: not just any run of the mill Museum but one of the largest Museums in Europe: The Natural History Museum.
        Rather than bore you with the full details of my journey I will just briefly say Mum and I decided we would go for a day out to the nations capital on one of local train company special deals without any idea where we would visit it was a case of pot luck until we got there, so arriving in London we bought a travel guide, opened it up and picked a Museum at random. South Kensington was our destination. The Natural History Museum is located on the corner of Cromwell Road and Exhibition Road. The Science Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museums are close by with Knightsbridge's shops and the Royal Albert Hall within walking distance. An underground walkway from the tube station takes you directly to the Museums without having to negotiate traffic and roads.

        THE EXTERIOR
        Mounting the steps from the walkway we came out into a large garden with a building resembling an enormous cathedral at its centre surrounded by tall cast iron gates. The first thing you see in the garden when entering from the subway walkway is a fossilised tree trunk but behind is a wonder in itself. The Victorian-style, Romanesque building is one of the most striking buildings I have ever seen. Sitting down within the gardens for a snack, Mum and I gazed upon the fascinating architecture before our eyes. Buff-coloured, terracotta tiles interspersed with Victorian blue bricks patterned the walls, moulded flora and fauna terracotta tiles decorated the round-arched windows, along the eves of the roof perched pterodactyls and large, predatory cats and other animals instead of gargoyles. The outside is a plethora of decoration, symbolic of the building's function, a Museum of Natural History. When the Natural History Department of the British Museum grew too large to remain in its home in Bloomsbury the prominent palaeontologist Professor Richard Owen had a vision. The man who gave us the word 'Dinosaur' envisage a grand building with huge galleries designed and constructed purposely to house the largest and tallest of skeleton specimens. Taking 12 years to design and construct, the vision became reality and the new Museum opened its doors to the public in 1881.

        THE INTERIOR
        Fortified, we entered through a set of recess arches and highly detailed, ornate columns, we walked into the huge Central Hall and came face to face with an enormous 26 metre long Diplodocus skeleton. This was the first time I had seen a full sized skeleton of a dinosaur and wow I was amazed as I gazed upon it in awe but that alone did not hold my gaze and I stared around in wonder. The huge glass windows high above allowed natural light to shine down into the Central Hall with its elaborate, grand staircase rising to second floor of galleries at the far end. This Hall and its galleries were a feast for the eyes as much as the buildings exterior, the same buff-coloured highly decorated terracotta material had been used throughout in the moulded panels displaying insects and fossils, foliage and plants. Climbing monkeys' cling to the corners of walls and niches, animals perch above columns of arches, doorways entwined with climbing snakes, a vast array of life line the walls with sculptures of plants and animals and above are the highly decorated and detailed painted ceilings. Emptied, the building alone would have been fascinating.

        WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
        The building is split into three sections, the Wonders and Life Galleries and Central Hall the Earth Galleries Atrium and the state of the art Darwin Centre. You can take photographs and videos. TIP always ask if flash photography is allowed as in some Museums their exhibits can be damaged from light for camera flash. You can pick up a free map and information leaflet at the front desk and large print maps are also available on request. I didn't bother with looking at the map, Mum and I were happy to wander and discover things for ourselves however I did pick up a map and a brochure later as souvenirs. Throughout the entire Museum are information touch-screen computer guides in a variety of languages and monitors, charts and displays to help you find what you are looking for. There are hundreds of specimens, tools and casts where you can handle and interact with, for the hands-on approach and with staff near by to help. There are paid Museum Guided Tours available with Special Exhibitions and Events that change regularly. And for the student, course and field studies are available. Kids activity sheets, events for under 7s are available too with discovery guides and structured workshops sessions. You need to allow at least 4-5 hours to tour the exhibits. TIP Ensure you wear a stout or comfortable pair of shoes.

        WONDERS AND LIFE GALLERIES
        Mum and I centred our tour on the Life Galleries throwing a cursory look at the Earth Gallery due to our time available. Easily you need hours just to walk around the Life Gallery alone. They are split into dinosaurs, insects, mammals, primates, minerals and origin of species covering a good two thirds of the Museum. Beginning at the dinosaurs, we walked into a dimmed area to be met by a Camerasaurus skeleton with its blackened bones, opposite, an armoured Euoplocephalus still partially buried in sand and rock and over in the corner a full sized Triceratops all amazing and unbelievable with a small model beside each depicting what they looked like. Taking the lift up to the 70 metre long suspended walkway just feet below the elaborately painted ceiling (which can also be reached by stairs) we wandered along in gazing wonder from above, past a huge variety of fossilized skeletons and specimens hanging on wires from the ceiling: a Gallimimus, the bird like dinosaurs you see in Jurassic park which run in flocks across the ground to the Iguanodon, or the fearsome Deinoncheirus also known as Terrible Hand because of its claws. Each exhibit had an information plate bearing the name and the phonetic pronunciation of its name with details of its size and species. Every so often we came across and animatronics model which moved and made sounds the dinosaurs made as presumed by scientists. At the end of the walkway there was a ramp leading down to the ground floor past two sets of animatronics dinosaurs, a pair Velociraptors and a pair if Oviraptors hovering over a nest of hatching eggs.

        Following the ramp round we saw TV screens and interactive touch-screen computer guides detailing the environment and ecology of the era in a twisting and turning labyrinth. On one wall were cartoons asking why was the dinosaur extinct. One of the images was a group of dinosaurs lying around and one with a bat in its hand tossing a ball. The title said BOREDOM and the speech balloon from the dinosaur said "Come on its only cricket." This creased me up with laughter as I to think cricket is a very boring game. Turning one corner we discovered a full sized, latex coated head of a T-Rex with its teeth coated in blood and its beady eyes glaring indolently. Hurrying through I had to ask Doyouthinkhesawus? Proceeding through specimens and photographs we moved towards the gallery shop and in a glass cabinet on the side was a small unidentified dinosaur. Looking closer you could see it was an animatronics model, breathing and twitching and every few moments its eye would flicker open. Almost alive I expected this model to sit up and move about but fortunately it did not.

        If I thought the Dinosaur hall was amazing the Mammal Hall was awesome. I have never seen a collection of mammals as extensive as this as we travelled through the glass enclosed alcoves and display cabinets. We first saw a Giant Panda skeleton at the head of the collection leading into a hall with an assortment of bear specimens with a large polar bear, the tiny red bear and the good old grizzly followed by the predator cats including, lynx, puma, polecat, mountain lion all svelte and proud. We saw a specimen of the extinct Sabre Toothed lion and a beautiful African lion that strangely had a peculiarly worried look upon its face and I was surprised it was smaller than I had imagined. "Oh look a Kangaroo and Joey in its pouch, I thought they were larger than 3 foot," I commented to mum, "and over there, are Koala, aww aren't they cute?" There were pigs, wild boar, sheep, deer, goats and even a bison and gazelle, I had only seen these in pictures. I had become a child again full of excitement at each new animal we came across. Imagine me a thirty something acting like a 7 year old. "Oh now isn't he a beauty?" Mum said and I turned to see a magnificent specimen of a horse that looked so life-like I could imagine its breath on my face. Next came the other equine-like mammals including asses and donkeys much like the one on the beaches in the summer when I was a kid and then a zebra.

        I was taking a look at the zebra when mum tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Take a look at this". I turned around and exclaimed in shock "OH MY GOD...." I could not believe what I saw before me. Imagine the scene in a movie where the character looks at something and there is a look of shock on their face before the camera pans around to show the vista before them, that is what it was like for me. It was the most gob smacking sight I had ever seen. The gallery was so large that it would hold the entire Central hall within it but dominating the exhibit was life-size model of a blue whale, suspended from the gallery ceiling, dwarfing even the largest of the modern mammals surrounding it. Dolphin and porpoise cavorted around its tail and hanging beside it were skeleton of other whales. Surrounding the whale were a collection of many world animals from rhinoceros, camels, Indian and African elephants, kudu, giraffes and a comical looking hippopotamus which a gleam in its eye and an expression right out of Disney's Fantasia. So many animals I could wander for hours without getting bored I felt I had seen something special. Up the stairs, was the Primates Gallery but by now our feet were hurting our backs ached we had to rest, so sitting back we gazed along the gallery at the skeletons of primates hanging from the ceiling and each other almost like swinging through the trees. Off we set again following the exhibit that explained their intelligence, communication and social behaviour and of the dangers they face. Only one thing was missing there wasn't a gorilla, it would have been nice to compare it to the one in Wollaton Hall Natural History Museum in Nottingham which I recall first seeing when I was a very small 5 year old and have seen many times since.

        Creepy Crawlies section sent a shiver down my spine, insects, spiders, crustaceans and centipedes...Yuck they make my flesh crawl. There were ants, woodlice, bees, locusts and termites all gross looking even behind their glass screens. We hurried through these as I can imagine many others would. The gallery then opened out into the Crustaceans and Molluscs with Crabs and other shellfish, the Fish, Amphibians & Reptiles. This exhibit included fish that live so deep they provide their own light ranging to the everyday Pike which I commented was one of the ugliest looking fish I had seen. There were sharks, porcupine blowfish and hundreds of colourful sea creatures and at the back of one room was an 18-metre model of a giant squid, the largest animal without a backbone. In the Reptiles there were a 150-year-old giant tortoise specimen. Mum told me of a large tortoise she had as a child that looked rather like the specimen we were staring at and other reptiles like lizards and snakes, and iguanas, each interesting and just as ugly as that pike. There was Komodo dragon looking very much like a dinosaur, the alligators and crocodiles here you could clearly tell the difference between the two species, crocodiles have a wider fatter, snout and mouth. Bird's exhibit showed minute details of many different species including nesting habits and anatomy. There were parrots, hawks, sparrows, thrush, cockatoo and many other exotic birds I had never heard of before but one magnificent sight was the hummingbird cabinet filled with hundreds of specimens of the beautiful tiny birds and then finally the skeleton and a specimen of the now extinct Mauritius dodo which became extinct during the 17th century.

        EARTH GALLERIES ATRIUM
        Have you ever wondered how it all began or ever been in an earthquake? Have you ever wondered why rocks and minerals are important to us or why earthquakes happen? The Earth galleries answer these questions housing a number of collections revolving around the Earth its 'self. An enormous sculpture of the Earth dominates the heart of this section flanked by six impressive statues leading to an escalator taking you other galleries and floors. Among these floors you can discover how life on the planet millions of years ago have much in common with today's Earth comparing features like chromosomes, teeth and bones to man's closest living relatives and how ancient people made and used tools or learn how without minerals which life on Earth would be impossible.

        An engraved steel timeline runs the length of the gallery covering 15000 million years of the life of the universe. Following the time rail you can discover how it all began, how the universe works and the origin of shooting stars and meteorites. The Museum is home of 10,000 -15,000 pieces meteorites that have been recovered from all over the world from huge craters in the Earth's surface after their fell through the atmosphere. There is an immense collection of over 3,000 minerals and gemstones and displays showing how scientists work in finding new ways to use these resources like silicon used in microchips or quartz which keeps time accurately.

        The Museum also houses an earthquake simulator where you can feel what it is like to be in an earthquake or discover where there have been earthquakes in the last week. Moving on you discover what happens when a volcano erupts and its effect on the planet. You can even see replica casts of hardened ash of a man and dog that died in Pompeii when Versuvius erupted 1900 years ago.

        THE DARWIN CENTRE
        Is a Research building open to visitors with state of the art laboratories, storage facilities of the valuable collections and where over 350 scientists research and care for the not only the Museums 70 Million specimens of which 22 million zoological specimens stored in jars of spirit, including original specimens collections by Captain Cook and Charles Darwin but also do research to tackle a wide range of concerns in the world today. Daily there are talks and discussions and a free-guided tour is available for those who wish to discover the wonderful collections and behind the scenes of the Museums where you can watch the scientists at work.

        THE FROZEN ARK
        In conjunction with the Zoological Society with support from the Institute of Genetics at Nottingham University, the Natural History Museum announced today the launch of The Frozen Ark similar to the project to collect seeds from endangered plants run by Britain's Royal Botanical Gardens. What this means is scientists will collect and freeze at - 80 degrees Celsius the DNA from thousands endangered mammals, birds, insects and reptiles is to be preserved. Scientists expect 10,000 species of animals to disappear within the next 30 years although this will be an immense project priority is being given to animals in danger of extinction within the next five years and those like the white Bengal Tiger that are surviving only in captivity. The Tiger is one of 33 species are already extinct in the wild. Specimens will be collected from the wild, animal sanctuaries and zoos.

        The first samples of the Socorro Dove native to one remote island; Socorro off the coast of Mexico, Arabian Oryx: an endangered desert antelope from Saharan Africa and yellow sea horse: endangered by hunting for Chinese medicine, were placed in deep freeze on Monday 26 July 2004.

        This project has been launched to safeguard animal genetic code for the future in a unique repository but it is hoped it could help in conservation and genetic research and provide future scientists, biologists and conservationists a blueprint of animals that they can understand and study rather than ask themselves questions that take years of research to answer.

        There are no current plans to use the DNA for cloning but the possibility in the future will exist to perhaps repopulate the planet of its animals The collection will be stored at the Natural History Museum and the Zoological Society with duplicate specimens stored in San Diego, California and Melbourne, Australia
        During the 2004 Athens Olympics a new high-performance swimwear range was used by many athletes. This development is the result of 4 years intense study into shark skin by the Natural History museum. The new line developed by Speedo mimicked the skin of sharks increasing the swimmer's speed by reducing drag through water.

        THE WILDLIFE GARDEN
        Outside is the Museum's first living exhibition, hundreds of wild flowers, dragonflies flitting across the ponds and birds visiting or nesting in the garden, the sights, sounds and smells of the countryside in the heart of London. Also in the gardens are specimens of wild animals like elephants and rhinos.

        FOOD AND DRINK
        There are three restaurants and cafes and a snack bar and picnic area. High chairs are available in all restaurants
        The picnic area is unusual as you can buy, sandwiches, drinks from vending machines or you can eat your own sandwiches here without being told off and not as busy as the cafes and restaurants it's opening times are 11.00-16.30 daily Globe Fast Food sell fast food snacks, tea, coffee and cakes and has an Ice cream parlour that opens during school holidays and weekends. It's opening times are 11.00-16.00 daily
        Life Galleries Restaurant is a self-service family-style restaurant, with a choice of three hot main courses, with separate children's' menu and heating facilities available for baby food, and the Waterhouse Cafe focus on Speciality coffee and tea, both have a selection of sandwiches and cakes, cold drinks and are licensed to sell alcohol their opening times are 10.00-17.00.

        BOOK AND GIFTS
        The Museum has several book and gift shops offering a wide range of books, maps, models, mineral specimens, and many souvenir items, including jewellery and ceramics and children's toys. A colour Souvenir Guide costs £5.50 which is rather cheap compared to many other Museum guides and part of the cost go toward the up keep of the building and its contents. The shops are the Dinostore in the Dinosaur Gallery, the Gallery Gift Shop and the Gallery Bookshop first floor near the birds and insects, the British Geological Survey information office can be found just entering the Earth Galleries and the Earth Gallery Shop in the Earth Gallery main floor

        OPENING TIMES AND FACILITIES
        The Museum is open every day, including Sundays and bank holidays, but is closed 24-26 December the admission is free although there are donation boxes sited in numerous areas. The opening times are Monday-Saturday 10.00-17.50 Sunday 11.00-17.50 with the last admission is at 17.30. The Museum can get very busy at weekends so it is ideal to take a visit during the week as the crowds are not so bad however you might come across a few school parties and package holiday guided tours while you are there. The additional available facilities are disabled access via many ramps and lifts, cloakroom and baby changing rooms.

        AFTERNOTE
        I tried to express how I felt touring this Museum I know I was wandering around in a state of awe and smiling like a schoolgirl. It is a place for the whole family, where adults and kids alike can learn something new. The whole Museum from the beautiful architecture to the wonderful and informative exhibits is truly the country's most remarkable Museum; you have to visit it to believe it. I would gladly return again and again to enjoy this wonder to the world Natural History.
        Is this a dinosaur I see before me? You bet it is and more.

        The Museum website http://www.nhm.ac.uk/

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          07.02.2012 11:49
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          The science behind great hair

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          The facts behind Fructis reveal a wide range of shampoos and conditioners containing a complex new formula that locks in colour with its anti-fading agent and is enhanced with natural ingredients for healthy hair. Using their scientific expertise and extensive knowledge of nature, Garnier declare they create products containing natural ingredients, which are both effective and a delight to use. Garnier say, "We harness the power of nature, which is a source of creativity, efficacy, gentleness and pleasure. Wherever possible, given equal levels of performance, we choose natural ingredients first."

          These natural ingredients appear in the form of their Active Fruit Concentrate formula, which nourishes the hair from root to end and works within the hair strand to strengthen it and their shine enhancing properties are designed to leave the hair with a brilliant shine and silky, soft feeling whilst protecting the hair strand. In the course of a series of washes the hair should develop more resistance to washing and everyday wear and tear consequently this should yield a colour vibrancy that lasts longer and is resistant to fading.

          The Active Fruit Concentrate is a cocktail of micro-oils, fruit acids, vitamins and enriched nutrients. Fruit acids are naturally found in fruit like apples, which contain malic acid, and citrus fruits, that contain citric acid. Vitamins: such as B3 and B6, found in fruits such as lemons, limes, grapes, pineapple and banana are vital in the production of Keratin more commonly known as hair fibre that helps make it more resilient and sustain strength. Fructose, and glucose are also important for strengthening so after five washes your hair should feel three times smoother and shinier and after ten washes a result in hair twice as strong. Will this mean no more breakage in hair and fewer split ends? Garnier declare Fructis is a vitality boost for hair.

          Now the Product

          The seven inch high bottle is bright, green apple (RGB green) coloured with the leaf green flip top cap. The shade is bright and cheery is unmissable on a shelf as it stands out amongst the other more muted coloured bottles. But does the bright professional packaging reflect the product inside?

          Getting down to the nitty gritty of using this product there are many positive aspects that I like about it. When you massage the silky, rich, double cream thick fusion into wet hair, the citrus fragrance of melon and grapefruit is released as a rich lather forms. This fragrance lingers in the warm air of the bathroom long after you leave as well as remaining in your hair. The lingering fragrance is one of the more encouraging aspects I believe of washing hair. I love great smelling hair. The lather is not a heavy one like associated with some shampoos but feels light and smoothing as you massage through the hair. As with all shampoo you must rinse away thoroughly as residual shampoo can make your scalp itch and flake. Follow the washing with Garnier Fructis Color Last Fortifying Cream Conditioner; this too is rich, double cream thick and isn't heavy. Your hair almost feels like you do not have conditioner in it at all and detangles well. I noticed while rinsing I could comb my fingers through the strands easily it is definitely a delight to use. Beware of contact with your eyes, shampoo and soap will sting profusely and should be rinsed immediately. If irritation continues you must seek medical advice.

          Drying my hair is a ritual for me. I do not use a hair dryer as it causes my hair to frizz and feel brittle I much prefer to naturally dry my hair. Having almost waist length extremely naturally wavy hair, I have to take care not to let it tangle and usually I add a hair moisturiser to the ends. This time I noticed a difference when combing and drying my hair. The comb flowed through the strands effortlessly, easily form into ringlets and curls rather than a frizz. The hair felt lighter not heavy or weighed down and easily broken as it can occasionally will with certain shampoo brands but rather smoother and softer. The fragrance still lingered as I combed and when the volume of my hair was more pronounced, the waves softer and exceedingly more manageable than with my last shampoo. I still have another 5 washes to go before I reach the 10 wash stage where I should be able to see the noticable changes as promised by Garnier. I will keep you informed.

          I would use it again however not only was it value for money but I received positive results. I was advised many years ago by an excellent hairdresser to change my shampoo every few months. That sound advice has aided me in maintaining healthy hair. This is one product to add to my shampoo rotation.

          LATEST
          I have reached the ten wash stage and upon paying a visit to my hairdresser today where I had a drastic 8 inches of hair cut away including the luscious curls I have for a smoother sleeker style, I was complimented on healthy and shiny hair he also approved of my choice in shampoo although he uses L'Oriel in his shop. He did however offer further advice which was to wash your hair once a month in a medicated shampoo like Vosene to remove the films and residue that all shampoos leaves on your hair and to massage a moisturising hair serum into the ends after each wash. I think I may try that.

          Thank you for listening

          Happy Washing

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          • The Last Samurai (DVD) / DVD / 88 Readings / 87 Ratings
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            13.01.2012 17:45
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            East meets West.An American soldier finds himself at the heart of a rebellion.

            A warrior sits on a hilltop amongst the sweeping mountains and forests of Japan; he is the last leader of an ancient line of warriors, the revered Samurai. Katsumoto's (Ken Watanabe) way of life is crumbling. After a dedicated life of service to the Emperor his future is being replaced with one of survival. Dying are the old traditions and values, fading are the codes of honour the Samurai live by, their homes, their lives, the very fabric of their existence is under threat, The Samurai culture is being annihilated as modern westernisation sweeps in to engulf traditional Japan.

            The year is 1876, America, a country recovering from a civil war, civilisation and modern philosophies are spreading westwards. The Union Army still battle against the Native American tribes and former Union Officer Captain Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise) sits awaiting his announcement at a rally. He is a war hero, a decorated man of honour and courage, the protector of American life and he is a drunk! He is a man in who is disillusioned, dejected and tormented by the memories of his role in the Indian campaigns, he is in limbo, and unforgiving of himself. He hates what he has become.

            He lives in contempt of the authority that commanded him to fight and butcher a tribe of innocent Native American Indians. Custer, the narcissistic, vainglorious and arrogant, general of the union forces has long since made his last stand but at what cost? Algren believes it cost him his soul.

            The world has changed, the once fought battles now distant and pointless as the modern civilisation invades both America and Japan the old ideals of honour and courage, old values, codes, and philosophies are drastically becoming a memory. These are two men adrift in a sea of confusion and decline but two warriors whose paths are about to converge.

            * * * * * * * * * * * *

            The last Samurai is a revealing tale of a culture at a defining moment in its history. Set in 1876 in Japan the movie is fictional but has roots based in the Satsuma uprising of 1876/77, this movie illustrates the violent and epic struggle between two eras and two worlds. An American soldier finds himself at the heart of a rebellion with only his sense and wits and routine to guide him. Cruise exceptionally portrays the drunken Algren who unexpectedly observes the ways of these honourable warriors, becoming impressed, and influenced by their powerful convictions, their ethics code of bushido; the way of the warrior, the philosophical code followed by the samurai of feudal Japan, a code of loyalty to one's master, self discipline and respectful, ethical behavior which remind him of the man he once was and who he still wished to be.

            Approached by a former comrade, his sergeant at arms Zebulon Gant (Billy Connelly) Algren is persuaded to go with him to meet with Colonel Bagley (Tony Goldwyn) his former commanding officer in the war against the Native Indians. Bagley is now an arrogant, avaricious, mercenary in the employ of the ruthless, ambitious and acquisitive Japanese minister Omura (sinisterly portrayed by Masato Harada) whom is also chief advisor to the young, immature and very impressionable Japanese Emperor Meiji (Shicinosuke Nakamura). The Emperor reveres the Samurai, many of whom were his teachers but he wants to move his country into the 19th century, to join the modern world. They have a proposition for Algren, a very lucrative proposition.

            A rebellion threatens the imperial rule lead by Katsumoto. The minister Omura is contemptuous of the old traditions and the Imperial advisors he controls desire the eradication of the rebels in preparation for a more westernised and trade-friendly government that will line his pockets with a veritable fortune. Omura coerces Algren to train Japan's first modern, conscripted army in the ways of modern warfare enabling the Imperial troops to destroy the savage rebels.

            But the rebellion will not fall without a fight. The rebels he speaks of are the legendary Samurai.

            Algren journeys to Japan and meets a country on the brink of a turbulent transition, embracing technology and change. Blocks of wooden warehouses and shops are replacing the picturesque pagodas and traditional styled buildings. Telegraph lines and railroads are slowly encroaching upon traditional Japan and the foundation is being built for the technological society the Japanese have become today. It is the birth of an era.

            Knowing the imperial troops are undisciplined and ill prepared Algren is ordered into battle against the mighty Samurai warriors where his troops break and run as they face a majestic charge of the mounted warriors in a mist shrouded forest with the eerie and unsettling war cries echoing in the gloom. Battling to save his life, he is wounded when confronted by a warrior of imposing strength and enviable swordsmanship; barely escaping a deadly blow he defeats his enemy only to be taken captive. And so Algren's life changes.

            Sensing something different about the American, Katsumoto is curious of this foreigner, this barbarian and sparing his life installs him as a guest in his home, closely guarded by his most trusted followers; his sister Taka (Koyuki), the wife of the warrior Algren defeated and her family. All is not easy, Algren is fevered from his injury and delirious, Taka tends him, her mind is in turmoil, Algren killed her husband, she cannot bear the anguish and hatred she feels. She implores Katsumoto to take the American from their home but her entreaty is rejected. Of Katsumoto's family, his son Nobutada (Shin Koyamada) is the first to extend the hand of friendship, and takes it upon himself to teach Algren the Japanese language. Later his friendship is repaid in a Tokyo street as Algren prevents Nobutada retaliating when and a group of Japanese guards confront the young warrior and attempt to confiscate his swords when the Imperial council outlaw the possession of the mighty weapons.

            Thrust now into unfamiliar yet unique environment, Algren's life now hangs in a balance. Recovering from his injuries he comes to appreciate the simple but vanishing culture as he observes their peaceful and honourable customs. He falls in love with the simplicity of their lives and how in all aspects the Samurai strive for perfection. These traditions are a balm to his torment and a new balance forms in his mind as he learns to appreciate life and adopts the philosophy that governs the Samurai. Now he can crawl from the pit in which he has lain for many years.

            Already a fine and outstanding swordsman Algren begins to learn the Samurai way and not without embarrassment, he trains under inscrutable masters to fight like one of the renowned Samurai warriors. Katsumoto grows to befriend and accept Algren and after a ninjas assassin's attack of the village where Algren saves his life and the life of his nephew, Katsumoto realises Algren has evolved from a barbarian enemy into a trusted ally. This trust is enhanced when on the morning of a battle Katsumoto presents Algren with a katana engraved with the words, "I belong to the warrior in whom old ways have joined with the new". A poignant yet accurate edict of the changes happening within the Japanese culture. The course of the future for the Samurai is now irrevocably entwined with Algren's as both warriors make a stand against those that would threaten the Samurai honour and values in which both warriors are prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice and serve at all costs?

            * * * * * * * * * * * *

            Buoyed by a magnificent script from John Logan the writer of Gladiator, and directed with sheer brilliance by Edward Zwick, Tom Cruise's acting is astounding in this film, you see him take blows and strikes and beatings without a flinch. He learned to speak Japanese and expended a true effort and a dedication to his craft, training intensely in the use of a katana (Japanese long sword) and how to accurately employ the weaponry with economic yet masterly effort. Ken Watanabe portrays the wisdom, poise and elegance of Katsumoto the leader of the last Samurai tribe charmingly and marvellously in his Supporting Actor Oscar nomination role.

            The cinematography is incredible; expressing the beauty of the Japanese landscape, the peaceful yet harsh environment of an age now since vanished. The beautiful, exotic yet restive play of light over the mountaintops from a Japanese sunset with the silhouette of Cruise remarkably noticeable against the dying rays of the sun. The battle scenes are an astounding piece of cinematic brilliance that is simply pure genius, the fast paced charge of the mounted warriors driving a force through the battle lines timed perfectly. The swift and deadly training duels of the Samurai are choreography of calculated intelligence. This movie has been designed with care to detail and extreme effort to instil the qualities it depicts.

            The soundtrack provided by Hans Zimmer is spectacular, a true reflection of the undertones of honour and duty, bursting with and beauty and sheer brilliance, combining strong yet sensitive strings and the poignant tones of a Japanese flute gentle yet fitting this magnificent composition to enhance the story beautifully. The strong energetic martial theme of battle emphasises the determination and anticipation of the fight with a dark and atmospheric beat.

            Once again Edward Zwick creates a wonderfully, emotive and atmospheric historical movie very much dedicated to the honourable and distinguished race of warriors. Those who serve is the actual translation of the word Samurai and the Samurai served their Emperor and their Empire loyally. The Samurai were truly a people of an unparalleled and envied culture.

            Running Time 148 minutes

            Certification 15

            Cast
            Ken Watanabe .... Katsumoto
            Tom Cruise .... Nathan Algren
            William Atherton .... Winchester Rep
            Chad Lindberg .... Winchester Rep Assistant
            Ray Godshall Sr. .... Convention Hall Attendee
            Billy Connolly .... Zebulon Gant
            Tony Goldwyn .... Colonel Bagley
            Masato Harada .... Omura
            Masashi Odate .... Omura's Companion
            John Koyama .... Omura's Bodyguard
            Timothy Spall .... Simon Graham
            Shichinosuke Nakamura .... Emperor Meiji
            Togo Igawa .... General Hasegawa
            Satoshi Nikaido .... N.C.O.
            Shintaro Wada .... Young Recruit
            Shin Koyamada .... Nobutada
            Hiroyuki Sanada .... Ujio
            Shun Sugata .... Nakao
            Koyuki .... Taka
            Sosuke Ikematsu .... Higen
            Aoi Minato .... Magojiro
            Seizo Fukumoto .... Silent Samurai
            Shoji Yoshihara .... Sword Master
            Sven Toorvald .... Omura's Secretary
            Scott Wilson .... Ambassador Swanbeck
            Yusuke Myochin .... Sword Master's Assistant

            Directed by Edward Zwick

            Produced by Edward Zwick, Tom Cruise, Tom Engleman, Paula Wagner and Marshall Herskovitz.

            Story and Screenplay by John Logan

            Music by Hans Zimmer

            A Double Disc Widescreen Edition DVD
            Contains strong violence
            Soundtrack album available on Warner / Sunset records / Elektra Entertainment / WMG Soundtracks
            Audio 5.1 Dolby Digital
            Aspect Ratio 16.9 widescreen / colour
            Subtitles are available for hearing impaired.
            Websites www.lastsamurai.com www.warnerbros.co.uk
            Disc 2 Special Features DVD
            Commentary by Director Edward Zwick
            History Channel Documentary: History V Hollywood - The Last Samurai
            Tom Cruise: A Warriors Journey
            Edward Zwick: Directors Video Journal
            Making of an Epic: A Conversation with Edward Zwick and Tom Cruise
            A World in detail: Production Designs with Lilly Kilvert
            Silk and Armour: Costume Design with Ngila Dickson
            Imperial Army Basic Training
            From Soldier to Samurai: The Weapons
            Deleted Scenes
            Japanese Premiers
            DVD-ROM PC File

            Thank you for reading

            Melodysparks (c) 2012

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            • Nestle Polo / Sweets / 102 Readings / 98 Ratings
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              02.11.2011 21:12
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              The Mint The Hole Mint and Nothing But The Mint Britains favourite mint

              Nestle Original Polo Mints! Where do I start first? Well that's easy, just pop one in your mouth and savour the sweet, fresh, mint flavoured candy. No, seriously, many adults will remember growing up with the Polo Mint, I do. The Polo Mint is one of those childhood favourites that generate happy memories and is an enduring, favourite sweet which sells in its millions, over £41 million to be precise annually, and is loved equally by children and adults today.

              Now once again where do I start? That's easy!
              In the beginning...

              Confectioners, Rowntree originally opened a tea and coffee shop in York in 1725 selling their wares to the British public. By 1948 their range of confectionery had become extremely popular in the UK by which time they launched the Polo mint. These lifebelt shaped mints were similar to the American Lifesavers and the British Navy Sweets Company's Navy mints, but Rowntree boldly moved to the fore of the market with their slogan The Mint With The Hole which is now one of the best known in the UK. Rowntree later merged with Mackintosh and the Swiss owned international company Nestle bought the joint company in 1988.
              In 1867, Henri Nestlé founded a small business in Switzerland and began setting up factories in other countries. A branch first came to Britain in 1868 and by 1905 had merged with the Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk Company. Nestle are also known for its vast range of food products and confectionery especially chocolate, cereals and coffee (I'm sure you are aware Nescafé is a Nestle product).
              Trivia facts. Nestle now manufactures Polo Mint - Original. 38 million Polo's are produced every day and It takes the equivelent weight of two elephants to press a Polo mint. Polo's name is derived from the word 'Polar', which suggests the coolness in the mouth from the crisp minty taste. 147 of these delightful mints are consumed every second.

              The Mint
              The 25 chomp-able lifebelt shaped hard-pressed sweets with a small hole cut through the centre forming The Mint With The Hole with the word POLO embossed twice on one face nestle (sorry for the pun) inside the foiled wrapper. The aroma is a strong, fresh, mint smell, which you notice when unwrapping the foil. Popping one into your mouth is a delight, the hard mint tablets although not overly sweet can be crunched and pulverised to quickly release the robust mint flavour or if you are like me, prefers to tease the mint with your tongue until it melts away leaving a cool lingering aftertaste that refreshes the mouth and breath.
              As a child I would twirl the sweet around my tongue waiting for it to dissolve away into nothing reducing the thickness making it as thin as possible trying not to break it. Now don't deny it, I would wager you and your friends would compete to see who's polo melted first (approx five minutes) or who could suck the sweet to the thinnest before it broke. I did!

              I find them addictive and can easily consume a pack within a morning but be warned when you have been eating Polo's like with all mints, wait a while before you eat or drink other food stuffs as the intense mint flavour that lingers in your mouth would make food and beverages taste strange. As with all confectionery the sugar contained within can be unhealthy for your teeth.

              The Polo is ideal for smokers not only does it reduce the residual smell of smoke upon their breath but helps to employ your mouth if you are attempting to give up or you are within no smoking areas.
              In a day and age where nutrition has become important there unfortunately are no nutritional details listed on the pack although a visit to the Nestle web site can remedy that but Polo is suitable for vegetarians. Weight watching consumers can enjoy the Polo Mint too. A full packet of 20 sweets is only 125 Kcal or even the Sugar Free version, which contain even less. To save you from searching out the info on the web site, here is it Nutritional Values per 4 sweets: Energy 104KJ, 25 Kcal, Protein: nil, Carbohydrate: 5.9g, of which are sugars: 5.7g, Fat: 0.1g, of which are saturates: 0.1 g, Fibre and sodium are both nil.

              A packet of Polo's will cost about £0.45 per packet and are available virtually everywhere within the UK.
              Over the years Rowntree and Nestlé designed variations of the Original Polo mint. Some were successful like the four above varieties but many of the others were not. But despite the different variations none have been as successful and much loved as the Original Polo mint.

              Other varieties available in the shops are:
              Spearmint: originally used to be found with the turquoise tinted almost sparkly flecks and a strong spearmint flavour and aroma however due to these flecks containing E numbers Nestlé changed them to plain white.
              Fruit: Multicoloured boiled sugar sweets in the normal Polo shape but flavoured with several fruits all in one tube. The flavours include strawberry, blackcurrant, orange, lemon, and lime.
              Sugar free: A sugar free alternative to the original flavours, which are ideal for kids and diabetics but do contain sorbitol. Sorbitol has been known for it's laxative effect on some people.
              Mini Strong Polo's: Tiny Polo shapes with an extra strong taste supplied in a white plastic flip open Polo Mint shaped box. Beware these are very strong.


              The Mint With The Hole? Yes please, The Mint The Hole Mint and Nothing But The Mint!
              Happy chomping.
              Thank you for reading
              Christine Preedy (c) 2010

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              • Lipton Ice Tea Lemon / Tea / 107 Readings / 103 Ratings
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                31.10.2011 19:51
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                A refreshing drink of Ice Tea ready to drink

                For several years like many others I have enjoyed, a cup of hot tea with lemon or an herbal alternative but never Iced Tea. It took a visit to Canada for me to try a ready to drink Iced tea, which is as commonplace as Coke Cola and Pepsi. (You cannot find any dilutable fruit squash like Robinson's in Canada unless it is a speciality store catering to imported British food stuffs and then priced 10 times its original cost due to import taxes). Yes I know what you are going to say "How revolting!" but please do not knock it until you try it. I did and now I love it.

                Most recipes for Ice Tea consists of a packet of powder bursting at the seams with vast amounts of sugar that never quite dissolve when mixed and diluted with water and an underdeveloped lemon flavouring, or the old fashioned recipe whereby a pot of tea left to steep and cool, adding sugar, lemon juice, water and lots of ice, although the only drawback from this old fashioned recipe is the harsh and sometimes metallic aftertaste that is acquired when tea has steeped too long.

                Lipton's has created a soft drink based upon its classic Lemon Tea recipe without the harshness and syrupy sweetness of packet Iced Tea but with a more developed clean, fresh flavouring rather like a light after dinner sorbet. Available in ready to drink bottles sized in 500 ml or 1.5 litres or a 330ml can and with two additional new flavours: Mango and Peach.

                The dark amber liquid is a smooth, cool and refreshing drink with a crisp tang of lemon that is pleasing to the palate with a hint of tea but without the ghastly metallic aftertaste. The peach flavour is delicate and subtle while the mango is more exotic and fruitful. It is a drink that is uplifting at any time of the day but wonderful in hot weather to re-dehydrate a parched mouth without the heaviness and bloating you associate with gaseous fizzy drinks and none of the overly rich, tart, and cloying taste acquired from fruit drinks with excess amounts of sugar and fruit juice.

                The most favourable way to serve is chilled with lots of ice and will keep in the fridge for up to a week once opened.
                The nutritional information list the ingredients, which contain a small amount of both fruit juice and tea extract. The typical values per 100 ml sold are: Energy 139 KJ / 33 KCAL, Protein 0 g, Carbohydrate 8.1 g, Fat 0 g.

                On the Weigh-Watches pure points system a 200ml serving is an approx half point.

                Lipton Ice Tea was launched nationally in 2002 in the U with Lemon and Peach flavours adding Mango flavour in 2003, which soon became the second favourite flavour in Europe after peach. Lipton Ice Tea is the 15th biggest selling soft drink brand worldwide and is obtainable in over 30 countries

                Lipton Ice Tea is available in most supermarket stores. A 1.5 litre bottle costs around £1.60 each depending in which supermarket you buy it or a handy 500 ml bottle costing approx £0.80. Classic Lipton Lemon Tea is a little harder to locate but is still available.

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                • More +
                  29.07.2011 17:28
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                  Reworking of Phantom of the opera with 3 witches and too many ghosts

                  Maskerade is an opera. Some readers would say that the storyline is clichéd or plagiarized and that it's been done before or that it is so unoriginal that it isn't worth the bother. On the contrary! Opera has never been done the way Terry Pratchett does it.
                  It is true that the story compares to Gaston Leroux's Phantom of the opera but it isn't quite the same. Like many of Prachetts books it is a parody and this one casts a new light on the classic tale of an opera ghost.

                  Consider Pritchett's other novels; some of them revolve around an idea or a concept that has been created or heard about before. For instance Soul Music is loosely connected to the introduction of rock and roll onto Discworld right down to Buddy of the Holley and Witches Abroad casts a new light on classic fairy tales. Moving Pictures is a parody of the early days of Hollywood. So why not the tale of an opera ghost? Injected with Pritchett's unique humour and wit into a story with a little added extra thrown in for good measure (just like one of Nanny Ogg's strange recipes) that keeps you laughing all through the read and the twists and turns in the plot keep you glued to every page and laughing throughout. Everybody wears a mask and not just the opera ghost

                  Agnes Nitt, is blessed with a singularly magnificent voice, one that can harmonise and rhapsodise with it 's self. Agnes is unfortunately not blessed with an extraordinary body; extraordinarily large would be accurate. However with great hair and a splendid personality Agnes is the roly-poly would-be witch who ventures into Ankh-Morpork in search of fame and fortune where she auditions at the Ankh-Morpork Opera house.
                  The opera has recently been bought by Mr Bucket a former cheese maker and only now is realising he has bought technically a money pit. The opera isn't making any money but night after night a show is performed all for the sake of OPERA. There is however one little snag, a ghost is said to watch over the opera.

                  But Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg two-thirds of a witch's coven have other plans. They are searching for a replacement for Magrat, who had the daring to go off and marry a king. Deciding Agnes would be the perfect candidate, follow her to Ankh-Morpork where just out of strange coincidence other business calls Nanny to the big city. The two witches pay a side visit the publishing house where Nanny has recently submitted a book; The Joye of Snacks. It is a book of recipes and many readers will know that Nanny's recipes are more than just recipes for food they are recipes with little added surprises! Especially for married couples! The book has sold thousands of copies and Granny thinks the publishers owe Nanny some money over $3000 considering they must be making a lot. Setting out on their journey they waylay the express coach and as these witches do manage to secure a seat on board. After many rest stops and scenery views the coach finally rolls into Ankh-Morpork 11 hours later than scheduled.

                  Together with Greebo Nanny's cantankerous cat that strangely changes form, they visit the opera in hope to persuade Agnes to return home with them and complete their coven but they find Agnes has been hired as the voice of Christine, a lovely girl with marvellous stage presence, fabulous figure and everything Agnes isn't except she has no talent and very little between the ears. Each evening Agnes is woken by a strange man who believing she to be Christine teaches her to sing her roles how they should be sung. Everyone is taken with Christine and rather than have large ladies pretending to be young maidens singing lead roles in true Opera style it is decided with a little persuasion due to the Bucket's backers to give Christine the lead roles. So Christina provides the body and Agnes supplies the voice.
                  However when cast and crewmembers start dying and threaten to ruin the show the deaths are blamed on the ghost and something has to be done. Agnes is convinced she knows who the ghost is but when she is confronted by two different people...

                  Murder and mayhem at the opera but who is the ghost? Between them they seek out and unmask the mysterious ghost with all the humour and plot twists that are classic Pratchett.
                  Can the witches stop the murders at the Opera House?

                  What can be said for Terry Pritchett's Maskerade? More importantly what does Maskerade say? A mask is a device that wholly or partially conceals the face but also masks have the ability to conceal, change, or transform the person behind the image into something or someone else other than who they really are.
                  Maskerade isn't solely about an opera ghost but about how ordinary people wear masks and put on false appearances. What you see isn't always what you get.

                  As with many Discworld novels, Maskerade can be read and enjoyed by it's self however if you are familiar with Discworld and it's characters you will enjoy it even more.
                  A classic Pratchett. You will love. An enjoyable read and a delight for true Pratchett fans I adore Discworld! Especially the witches and Granny Weatherwax is by far one of my favourite character with her stern look on life who never admits she might be wrong or that there is something she is not familiar with, her outspoken way, and her "headology". Granny is an enigma and rather a unique witch, she is very clearly the leader of the coven a spinster and the old crone but above all and feared by many in Lancre including the trolls which I find absolutely hilarious especially when you discover the name they give her. I enjoy how Granny has more than once spoken her mind and is always the hero of the hour in all the Witches books. It takes a brave person or a very stupid one to mess with Granny. But Granny also has her softer side and I believe she can feel quite hurt and very much alone and vulnerable many a time, especially in Carpe Jugulum when she thought Magrat didn't want her attending her baby's christening.

                  Now Nanny Ogg is different, I find I am often shaking my head at her antics. She has been married four times and has a host of sons and daughters in law and rules her roost like a Queen and loves good booze up. I consider her to be more like the comic side kick to Granny's heroine yet Nanny has a way about her that makes her appear like she belongs where she is even when she is not. With Maskerade, Granny once again saves the day. I have been charmed with the Phantom of the Opera story for quite some time and have always loved Terry Pritchett's parodies and with this book he has blended the two which I love and have read and re-read numerous times.

                  Thank you for reading.

                  Melodysparks (c) 2011

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                  • Nestle Polo Mints Original / Sweets / 88 Readings / 82 Ratings
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                    14.10.2010 16:33
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                    Much loved Mint flavoured addictive candy favourite

                    Nestle Original Polo Mints!! Where do I start first? Well that's easy, just pop one in your mouth and savour the sweet, fresh, mint flavoured candy. No, seriously, many adults will remember growing up with the Polo Mint, I do. The Polo Mint is one of those childhood favourites that generate happy memories and is an enduring, favourite sweet which sells in its millions, over £41 million to be precise annually, and is loved equally by children and adults today.
                    Now once again where do I start? That's easy!

                    In the beginning...
                    Confectioners, Rowntree originally opened a tea and coffee shop in York in 1725 selling their wares to the British public. By 1948 their range of confectionery had become extremely popular in the UK by which time they launched the Polo mint. These lifebelt shaped mints were similar to the American Lifesavers and the British Navy Sweets Company's Navy mints, but Rowntree boldly moved to the fore of the market with their slogan The Mint With The Hole which is now one of the best known in the UK. Rowntree later merged with Mackintosh and the Swiss owned international company Nestle bought the joint company in 1988.

                    In 1867, Henri Nestlé founded a small business in Switzerland and began setting up factories in other countries. A branch first came to Britain in 1868 and by 1905 had merged with the Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk Company. Nestle are also known for its vast range of food products and confectionery especially chocolate, cereals and coffee (I'm sure you are aware Nescafé is a Nestle product).

                    Trivia facts. Nestle now manufactures Polo Mint - Original. 38 million Polo's are produced every day and It takes the equivelent weight of two elephants to press a Polo mint. Polo's name is derived from the word 'Polar', which suggests the coolness in the mouth from the crisp minty taste. 147 of these delightful mints are consumed every second.

                    The Mint
                    The 23 chomp-able lifebelt shaped hard-pressed sweets with a small hole cut through the centre forming The Mint With The Hole with the word POLO embossed twice on one face nestle (sorry for the pun) inside the foiled wrapper. The aroma is a strong, fresh, mint smell, which you notice when unwrapping the foil. Popping one into your mouth is a delight, the hard mint tablets although not overly sweet can be crunched and pulverised to quickly release the robust mint flavour or if you are like me, prefers to tease the mint with your tongue until it melts away leaving a cool lingering aftertaste that refreshes the mouth and breath.

                    As a child I would twirl the sweet around my tongue waiting for it to dissolve away into nothing reducing the thickness making it as thin as possible trying not to break it. Now don't deny it, I would wager you and your friends would compete to see who's polo melted first (approx five minutes) or who could suck the sweet to the thinnest before it broke. I did!

                    I find them addictive and can easily consume a pack within a morning but be warned when you have been eating Polo's like with all mints, wait a while before you eat or drink other food stuffs as the intense mint flavour that lingers in your mouth would make food and beverages taste strange. As with all confectionery the sugar contained within can be unhealthy for your teeth.

                    The Polo is ideal for smokers not only does it reduce the residual smell of smoke upon their breath but helps to employ your mouth if you are attempting to give up or you are within no smoking areas.

                    In a day and age where nutrition has become important there unfortunately are no nutritional details listed on the pack although a visit to the Nestle web site can remedy that but Polo is suitable for vegetarians. Weight watching consumers can enjoy the Polo Mint too. A full packet of 20 sweets is only 125 Kcal or even the Sugar Free version, which contain even less. To save you from searching out the info on the web site, here is it Nutritional Values per 4 sweets: Energy 104KJ, 25 Kcal, Protein: nil, Carbohydrate: 5.9g, of which are sugars: 5.7g, Fat: 0.1g, of which are saturates: 0.1 g, Fibre and sodium are both nil.

                    A packet of Polo's will cost about £0.45 per packet and are available virtually everywhere within the UK.

                    Over the years Rowntree and Nestlé designed variations of the Original Polo mint. Some were successful like the four above varieties but many of the others were not. But despite the different variations none have been as successful and much loved as the Original Polo mint.

                    Other varieties available in the shops are:

                    Spearmint: originally used to be found with the turquoise tinted almost sparkly flecks and a strong spearmint flavour and aroma however due to these flecks containing E numbers Nestlé changed them to plain white.
                    Fruit: Multicoloured boiled sugar sweets in the normal Polo shape but flavoured with several fruits all in one tube. The flavours include strawberry, blackcurrant, orange, lemon, and lime.

                    Sugar free: A sugar free alternative to the original flavours, which are ideal for kids and diabetics but do contain sorbitol. Sorbitol has been known for it's laxative effect on some people.

                    Polo Holes: The original flavoured pressed mint in the shape of the hole from the middle of the sweet which usually came in a small plastic tube approx half the size of the polo package itself. The holes actually do fit a Polo Mint. This silly boozma tried it.

                    Mini Strong Polo's: Tiny Polo shapes with an extra strong taste supplied in a white plastic flip open Polo Mint shaped box. Beware these are very strong.



                    The Mint With The Hole? Yes please, The Mint The Hole Mint and Nothing But The Mint!
                    Happy chomping.

                    Thank you for reading

                    Christine Preedy (c) 2010

                    You can also find this review published in Ciao uk under my username of melodysparks

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                    • Master & Commander (DVD) / DVD / 186 Readings / 177 Ratings
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                      06.10.2010 16:46
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                      This dramatical seafaring adventure adapted from Patrick O'Brians novel about the British navy

                      This dramatical seafaring adventure adapted from the 10th Patrick O'Brian novel about British naval hero Capt. Jack Aubrey, is set in 1805 and the war between the British & French. Off the coast of Brazil, the HMS Surprise is patrolling the South Atlantic waters searching for the elusive superior French man-o-warship Acheron with the orders to sink or claim her as prize.

                      When Acheron materializes out of the fog like a phantom attacking the Surprise damaging her badly and injuring many of her crew, Aubrey is torn between a sense of duty to his injured crew and his duty to the Crown sets sail and engages in a battle of wits, seamanship and will against his unknown foe in a high stakes chase across the Atlantic in a mission that could turn the tide of the war. Blond haired Crowe portrays outstandingly Lucky Jack Aubrey as a witty, strong and charismatic Captain, a naval hero who once served as one of Nelson's junior officers with a reputation and well-earned respect from his men who will follow to the end of the earth and back again.

                      Paul Bettany his co-star from Beautiful Minds is his loyal friend and confidant and ships surgeon / naturalist, Dr. Stephen Maturin. He is highly respected by the crew, and trusted to a point where many will pretend imaginary ailments to seek him out, to teach them to read or just to talk. Bettany's portrayal of this caring and gentle individual is exquisite. Their unique bond takes them through arguments and battles of their own and at the end of each day in a simple diversion to their cruel world their joint love of music. Crowe and Bettany spent weeks learning to play the stringed instruments you see them using in the film to give the scenes a realism although the music heard on screen was played and recorded by a professional each had to be movement perfect to match each note played. Their close friendship is proven when Maturin is shot and Jack returns to the Galapagos Islands so his fevered and bleeding friend can recover and all under the pretense of a good place to relax, at the whalers watering station and perhaps capture the rare delicacy, turtle meat without admitting his fear for his friends life.

                      The officers and crew are eager for battle and an opportunity to distinguish themselves. However when battle comes, and once more the Surprise is out gunned and out witted by the French man-o-war the ships crew with their superstitions believe their luck is turning bad they are convinced they have a Jonah on board. One of the Officers, Hollom, the indecisive and timid Midshipman played by Lee Ingleby. Whispers spread around the ship as one unlucky event afte the other occurs. Soon paranoia sets in and Hollom finds himself an outcast from the rest of the crew with the exception of Maturin and young Blakeney played by Max Pirkis. Rounding the maelstrom of Cape Horn from east to west in a week long passage full of ice and snow and the continuous strong winds and current make it pure wretched gloom and finally sailing into the deep blue waters of the Pacific to archipelago of the Galapagos Islands.

                      Maturin, sees the islands as a rich font of scientific information and exacts a promise from Aubrey to be allowed to explore the bleak yet bountiful archipelago. His naturalist interest is enthusiastic where he desires nothing more than to seek out and understand the small flightless cormorant like birds, the unusual black beetles or the iguanas that can swim is a herald of the future of scientific exploration. Later in 1833, the H.M.S. Beagle would later bring Charles Darwin to the island, where he would diligently monitor and examine the varied species, and ultimately lead him to publish his theory of natural selection. With superb performances from the large ensemble cast of young British actors from stage and screen including James D'Arcy and young Max Pirkis and Billy Boyd (Pippin from Lord of The Rings) as Barrett Bonden the Coxswain in this richly detailed and exciting nautical adventure of everyday life onboard ship reveals the gruesome and hardships of sailors during Napoleonic warfare where discipline on the ship is tight but although seemingly harsh, where failing to salute an officer earned you a flogging and on the sea where even children as young as 10 could not escape injury, amputation or even death in apprenticeships to become officers. Life on a war ship was harsh by modern measures.

                      It's a story of friendship, camaraderie, trust and survival in a harsh environment where one minute a calm ocean can change into a maelstrom in a blink of the eye and only teamwork and trust in one's fellow shipmate will bring them out the other side. The Captain is irrevocably responsible for the well being of his ship and crew, during one scene Aubrey must choose between saving one man and saving his crew when a storm tears away part on a mast that could drag the ship to the bottom of the ocean.
                      A powerful film with real characterisations and unique realism that gives you the feeling you are standing right there alongside the captain as a member of his crew feeling the fear and anxiety and excitement of the chase across an ocean.

                      A commanding performance from Crowe with an excellent supporting cast in an admirable adaptation from Weir. Bravo for Peter Weir a well made and produced movie. The cinamatography is breathtaking the action scenes unbelievable and the effects out of this world.

                      Cast
                      Russell Crowe .... Capt. Jack Aubrey
                      Paul Bettany .... Dr. Stephen Maturin, Surgeon
                      James D'Arcy .... 1st Lt. Tom Pullings
                      Edward Woodall .... 2nd Lt. William Mowett
                      Chris Larkin .... Capt. Howard, Royal Marines
                      Max Pirkis .... Blakeney, Midshipman
                      Jack Randall .... Boyle, Midshipman
                      Max Benitz .... Calamy, Midshipman
                      Lee Ingleby .... Hollom, Midshipman
                      Richard Pates .... Williamson, Midshipman
                      Robert Pugh .... Mr. Allen, Master
                      Richard McCabe .... Mr. Higgins, Surgeon's Mate
                      Ian Mercer .... Mr. Hollar, Boatswain
                      Tony Dolan .... Mr. Lamb, Carpenter
                      David Threlfall .... Preserved Killick, Captain's Steward
                      Billy Boyd .... Barrett Bonden, Coxswain
                      Bryan Dick .... Joseph Nagle, Carpenter's Mate
                      Joseph Morgan .... William Warley, Cpt. of Mizzentop
                      George Innes .... Joe Plaice, Able Seaman
                      William Mannering .... Faster Doudle, Able Seaman
                      Patrick Gallagher .... Awkward Davies, Able Seaman
                      Alex Palmer .... Nehemiah Slade, Able Seaman
                      Mark Lewis Jones .... Mr. Hogg, Whaler
                      John DeSantis .... Padeen, Loblolly Boy
                      Ousmane Thiam .... Black Bill, Killick's Mate
                      Thierry Segall .... French Captain Cert: 12
                      Running Time Approx 132 Minutes
                      Language : English
                      Subtitles available for the hearing impaired

                      Directed by Peter Weir
                      Music composed by Iva Davies, Christopher Gordon and Richard Tognetti
                      Master and Commander is available in both single disc and Box set, Collector's Edition double disc format

                      Box set, Collector's Edition double disc format Disc 1
                      Feature film
                      First look at I, Robot
                      Disc 2 Making of Featurette
                      Peter Weir on Directing "In the wake of O'Brian" Documentary
                      2 Special Effects Documentaries
                      HBO Special
                      6 Deleted scenes
                      Multi-angle Scene Studies
                      Still Gallery

                      Thank you for reading

                      Christine Preedy (c) 2010

                      You can also find this review published in Ciao uk under my username of melodysparks

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