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mikeonabike

mikeonabike
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Member since: 14.12.2009

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    • Nescafe Original / Coffee / 20 Readings / 15 Ratings
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      23.05.2010 23:35
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      Original Nescafe and still one of the best

      ** Nescafe Original **


      We drink a lot of coffee in my house. Not as much as we drink tea but still it's a popular drink with the family and visitors. I tend to buy a lot of supermarket home brand items to stretch our budget but whenever possible I like to go a little more up market when it comes to coffee as I have not always been impressed with some of the very cheap brands.

      Nescafe is one of our favourite brands and Nescafe Original is always a safe bet with everyone. Nescafe Original comes in a jar with a screw off top. I always love the smell as I unscrew the top and pierce the film covering the jar as the rich aroma wafts up to meet my nostrils.

      Sometimes I think as nice as the tatse is, the smell of cofee is better than actually drinking it :o) When I used to have a job that required me to get up very early I used to prefer my coffee black but nowadays I'm a milk and two sugars king of a guy.

      For best results with Nescafe Original I like to put a big heaped spoonful of Nescafe Original in with the sugar and a very generous amount of milk and whisk it all together with a spoon before pouring in the hot water. Somehow it doesn't taste as good to me if I add the milk and sugar after the hot water.

      Once mixed to my personal taste I really enjoy a cup of Nescafe Original. The bitter coffee and smooth milk complement each other very well. The sugar is not to everyone's taste but I have a sweet tooth so do like sweet flavours.

      I couldn't drink more than a couple of cups a day nowadays but I do enjoy my coffee. I'm not sure whether I like Nescafe Original more than Gold Blend, or Camp Coffee but I don't think there is much difference in quality between them. They all taste good to me.


      ** In conclusion **


      For a great cup of coffee I don't think you can go far wrong with Nescafe Original. There are cheaper jars of coffee but not all of them are very nice in my opinion. I couldn't say Nescafe Original was my absolute number one coffee but it is definitely right up there with the other top Nescafe flavours and other top brands.


      Thanks for reading my review.
      Mike xx

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      23.05.2010 22:30
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      Great if you mix them with the right other foods

      ** Birds Eye Potato Waffles **

      I still have that annoying Birds Eye Potato Waffles advert buzzing in my ears each time I see a box of these. You remember the one? "Birds Eye Potato Waffles so utterly versatile" to a 1920s flapper or Noel Coward music style. Urg!

      Fortunately the waffles are better than the song. I hadn't eaten any of them for ages but they cropped up as part of Sunday dinner with my parents. No matter how old you get there is northing like letting your mom cook Sunday tea :o)

      Birds Eye Potato Waffles are as you would expect waffle shaped squares of potato. The potato is a bit like mashed potato rather than the real thing. On the outside of each waffle is a sort of batter than browns when you cook them and it holds the whole thing together.

      On their own Birds Eye Potato Waffles are to be honest a bit bland. They don't really have much zing or flavour of their own and are pretty boring. If Birds Eye Potato Waffles were a colour they'd be beige!

      But mix them in with something like gravy or baked beans. Hopefully not at the same time :o) and the Birds Eye Potato Waffles take on a life of their own and become something more than the sum of their parts. The potato waffles seem to absorb any of the flavours around them which in the case of our Sunday dinner was gravy full of vegetables.

      Suddenly the bland mashed potato flavour is transformed into a light treat. In small amounts Birds Eye Potato Waffles are great though I wouldn't want to eat too many of them as part of a meal as they are very filling.


      ** In conclusion **

      At around £1.60 a pack Birds Eye Potato Waffles aren't too expensive. I wouldn't eat them in preference to other potato products like chips, but if mixed with another suitable food with a nice sauce or gravy then Birds Eye Potato Waffles can enhance a meal. But on their own they are a bit lame I feel.


      Thanks for reading my review.
      Mike xx

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    • McCain Pizza Fingers / Snacks / 9 Readings / 9 Ratings
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      23.05.2010 21:49
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      Not bad and a great snack for a night in

      ** McCain Pizza Fingers **

      Any food that you can cook quickly is ok by me and as readers of my other reviews will know is what I call MAN cooking :o)

      MAN cooking being the sort of cooking we can get away with doing for ourselves when our wives and girlfriends are else where and we want a snack while watching sports on TV or something.

      McCain Pizza Fingers looked like ideal quick to cook MAN food to me so I popped a packet in my trolley during the twice weekly shop at the supermarket. I already like McCain's other products so I thought the pizza fingers were a safe bet taste wise.

      I only ever oven cook my pizzas or in this case pizza fingers. Grilling sounds like something I have to pay attention to which is the opposite of man cooking. Having had a lads night in with a few friends I popped all 10 of the McCain pizza fingers in the oven.

      They looked quite appetising even before cooking. They seemed chunky and thick as if they would be something substantial to eat so I left them in the oven cooking for about 20 minutes.

      After cooking the pizza fingers were nicely browned underneath if a little smaller for the cooking experience. The fingers still looked very succulent though. We had 3 fingers each and the dog got the extra one. Being the world's greediest dog there is little point asking his opinion of the taste as he would probably also eat the packaging if I wasn't watching him :o)

      The pastry was nice and tasty. Not too hard and brittle. It still had a soft bread like quality to it almost. The cheese wasn't quite as flavour filled as I would have expected from looking at it. It tasted better when you had your eyes open and were looking at it of you know what I mean? If I closed my eyes and concentrated on the flavour alone the cheese wasn't really anything special.

      Having said that it wasn't too bad and the pizza fingers went well with the lager we were drinking.


      ** In conclusion **

      McCain Pizza Fingers are not the tastiest pizza type products I have tasted but they were quite nice. We all agreed that pizza fingers were a lot more convenient to handle and eat than proper shaped pizza so that is an advantage. They don't take long to cook and I have a sneaky suspicion that if my girlfriend had cooked them that they may well have tasted a bit better. But then again it wouldn't have been proper MAN cooking :o)

      For around £1.50 for 10 fingers McCain Pizza Fingers are quite good value I think and though not spectacular they are pretty good.

      Thank you for reading this review.
      Mike xx

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      23.05.2010 21:26
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      For the money it's definitely worth it

      ** Tesco Sun-Sip Orange Squash **

      Our latest squash purchase is a two litre bottle of Sun Sip Orange Squash. With 11p change out of a pound for two litres it certainly isn't pricey. Having said that the tesco's own value range squash is still a bit cheaper.

      The only proper evaluation of a squash though is to test it's flavour and with all the scorching hot weather that has just arrived to herald the start of summer, quite a lot of squash is getting drunk in my house at the moment.

      Pouring the Tesco Sun-Sip Orange Squash into a glass reveals a nice vibrant yellowy orange coloured liquid. I tend to add more squash than manufacturers recommend in ratio to the amount of water as otherwise squash from any manufacturer tastes and looks weedy to me.

      So having poured a fair amount of squash into my glass I topped up with tap water. The colour as you would expect became a little more washed out but not too much to make me think that the squash would taste too weak.

      My first mouthful of Tesco Sun-Sip Orange Squash revealed a not unexpected taste. It was the usual refreshing taste of cheap squash with a vague leaning towards oranges but in a processed non authentic way.


      ** My conclusion **

      You might think from what I've written that I didn't much like Tesco Sun-Sip Orange Squash but it wasn't really too bad. I wouldn't expect an authentic fruity flavour at this price ad you do get a lot of squash for your money. Two litres in fact.

      Tesco Sun-Sip Orange Squash is a budget brand and you can tell that by the taste but it isn't too bad at quenching your thirst. It doesn't taste too bad and it doesn't cost too much. Not a fantastic product but it does the job!


      Thanks for reading my review.
      Mike xx

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      23.05.2010 20:42
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      Very good quality mouth wash

      ** Aquafresh Extra Fresh Daily Mouthwash Fresh Mint **

      I like to use mouthwash as well as toothpaste and floss. It fills a niche the others don't reach so to speak :o) I generally buy cheaper supermarket home brands where possible to stretch our weekly budget out a little but I was given a bottle of Aquafresh Extra Fresh Daily Mouthwash Fresh Mint by my brother who had bought two bottles and decided he wasn't keen.

      I use mouthwash first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Although I have heard that it is useful to use it after a meal prior to brushing to loosen any food fragments. But I only use it first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

      The Aquafresh Extra Fresh Daily Mouthwash Fresh Mint comes as you would expect in a plastic bottle. You open the bottle pour some mouth wash into the top and gargle and swish it round your mouth for a moment or less. I always wash the top before replacing it on the bottle as I feel it would be unhygienic not to do this.

      Aquafresh Extra Fresh Daily Mouthwash Fresh Mint contains all the usual thing like flouride to strengthen teeth and an anti bacterial agent but it also contains ingredients to strengthen tooth enamel which is a welcome addition so I believe it is a bit better quality then the normal supermarket brands I usually buy.

      The flavour is "fresh mint" and it certainly packs a wollop. It is one of those flavours of mouthwash that make you feel like you are having your tongue and the top of your mouth ripped out by hundreds of pointy needles!. But somehow and for some reason I quite like that in a mouth wash. It really wakes me up in the morning for sure.

      Some of the cheaper supermarket brands do also have than burn the inside of your face off factor too so I can hardly single Aquafresh Extra Fresh Daily Mouthwash Fresh Mint out as being the only mouth wash that tastes this way. But if you don't like strong mint taste don't buy this as it is the mint equivalent of a vindaloo curry :o)


      ** My conclusion **

      I have been using Aquafresh Extra Fresh Daily Mouthwash Fresh Mint for a week now and it is growing on me. I think the tooth protection on offer is superior to the cheap brands I usually buy. The taste is ok if you are used to these severe minty flavoured mouth washes but steer clear if you don't like sharp flavours. As a wake up factor first thing in the morning and as a way of protecting your teeth and making your mouth feel fresh Aquafresh Extra Fresh Daily Mouthwash Fresh Mint takes some beating.


      Thank you for reading this review.
      Mike xx

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      • Top 10 Films in general / Discussion / 25 Readings / 23 Ratings
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        06.05.2010 23:18
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        These are my top 10 but I probably should pick a top 50 to get them all in

        My top 10 films that survive repeated watching are (with no plot spoiling);

        1) The Silent Running - A quirky Sci Fi film from the 70s that was way ahead of it's time with it's view of eco concerns. The last forests of the earth were sent into space and being cared for - but one member of the forest care team feels much more strongly than the others. I love the soundtrack, the pre star wars robots humour and the sense of beauty and hopelessness in this film. Weirdly overlooked as as a classic.

        2) The Blues Brothers. I've never seen a car chase like it before or since. The humour is really sharp and the music and guest appearances by legendary musicians like Steve Cropper and John Lee Hooker just raise this flick to the status of legend as far as I'm concerned. Blues Bros. 2000 was lame in comparison.

        3) The Commitments. Another sound track movie where the band is much more true to life. They argue fight, musical style clash, personalities clash and in the end what happens is what really happens to bands whether they make it or not. But I'm not going to spoil the story tell you what it is :o)

        4) The Jungle Book by Walt Disney. This is one of the last cartoons to come out of the Disney studios that Walt supervised. Not long after this the company was run by other folks and magic slipped away I think. But Disney's telling of the classic Kipling tale has everything, comedy, songs, solid plot, excitement. Can't fault it.

        5) Batman. The original 1966 version with Adam West donning the bat suit. This spin off from the sixties series is infinitely funnier and more entertaining than any of the later movies. Who could not fail to giggle at the prosect of a 'pre atomic submarine' :o)

        6) The Killing Fields. What a terrible and wonderful tale of life in Cambodia under Pol Pots evil regime. The struggle of one person trapped in the country while his friend safely escapes to the US is spellbinding. Sadly the cruel events of this movie really happened. The children killing adults was particularly disturbing. Unmissable film that deserves watching repeatedly.

        7) The Time Machine. The old version not any of the new remakes. This is the only film I've ever seen that was better at telling the story than the book. H.G Well's book starts brilliantly but quickly runs out of steam as Wells himself admitted: The Time Machine is actually classed as a short story! But the film version tells it much better. The clever introduction of the shop window with the model changing fashions was a brilliant invention absent from the book. Also the fate and affection for the time travellers companion was handled much better in the film. The first version of the Book was called the Chronic Argonauts... There's nothing chronic about the old 60s film version though, but I have seen a chronic recent remake!

        8) Oh My Porter. That shamefully forgotten comic genius Will Hay's best film perhaps. The hilarious goings on surrounding a train station in northern Ireland that Will Hay is put in charge of are too many and too wonderful to list, you need to watch it. As well as the comedy there is a sub-plot of supernatural goings on and possibly a dangerous criminal or two thrown in for good measure. The Windmill scene is one I could watch again and again.

        9) The Ghost Train. Made only a few years after Oh Mr Porter and very likely influenced by it The Ghost Train is another classic British film I can watch again and again. The story was written by non other than Arnold Ridgley who in his later years played Godfrey in Dad's Army! Based around the true story of a tragic Victorian railway disaster involving a bridge over a water, The Ghost train is a vehicle (excuse the pun) for Arthur Askey's comedy stylings as well as another trip into to supernatural and criminal activity. A great film!

        10) West World. I've ruin out of room already and there are so many other films I could watch time and time again but I'll finish with this 70s sci fi classic that was the inspiration for the Terminator films and probably many more too.

        Yul Brynner is the unstoppable inhuman robotic killer who just won't stop as he pursues his victim through various areas of a future holiday theme park. Terminator 1 was good, but this is the daddy!

        ** In conclusion **

        There are so many great films worth watching time and again -though equally there are many films I wish I hadn't even watched once :o)

        My selections are mainly comedies with a few musicals and sci fi thrown in for good measure. Hope you liked them -what are your 10 top films?

        Mike XX

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        • Cadbury Caramel Biscuits / Snacks / 15 Readings / 14 Ratings
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          06.05.2010 18:51
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          Great treat but too expensive to by all the time

          ** Cadbury Caramel Biscuits **

          I love almost the entire Cadbury range of chocolates and sweets despite their takeover by Kraft which was a real shame - I am still a huge fan of their confectionery.

          So I was understandably delighted when I saw they had brought out a new product product Cadbury Caramel Biscuits. I do prefer their chocolate to biscuits but wasn't going to pass up the chance to try Cadbury Caramel Biscuits as I hadn't come across them before.

          I was very pleasantly surprised by my purchase. The biscuit in question was shortcake and I love shortcake anyway but this being a Cadbury product there is of course a chocolate theme. So surrounding each shortcake biscuit is a layer of delicious Cadbury's milk chocolate.

          But even better between the shortcake biscuit and the outer chocolate coating is a layer of Cadbury's caramel which tastes identical to a Cadbury's Caramel bar. Cool! If only all biscuits made me feel about 10 years old again :o)

          Obviously these are not what you would call health conscious biscuits and if you are on a diet you should probably hide under the bed if a lorry carrying Cadbury Caramel Biscuits passes down your street -but for sweet toothed folks like me Cadbury Caramel Biscuits are great.

          Biting into a biscuit reveals a super mix of flavours and textures. The sweet crisp shortcake works together with the soft sweet slightly chewy caramel and is contrasted by the deeper sharper chocolate coating. I was in chewing munching biscuity chocolate heaven.

          The pack of eight biscuits didn't last very long in our house, though I confess I'm responsible for the disappearance of four of them :o) The family opinion was a big thumbs up!


          ** In conclusion **

          We won't have them too often though as we tend to stick with a lot of supermarket home brands to stretch the budget further and at not far under £2 a pack I can't justify buying them on a weekly basis. But definitely one to get in every now and again.

          Thanks for reading my review.
          Mike XX

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        • Advocaat / Liqueur / Cocktails / 17 Readings / 15 Ratings
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          06.05.2010 18:01
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          Not stunning but a good drink - even better as a present for nans, sisters etc

          ** Advocaat **

          I have a love hate relationship with Advocaat. As a child I remeber my nan used to buy it a lot and was a big fan; being a naughty child you would of course always try to get a taste of whatever the grown ups were drinking that you were not allowed to have, but in the case of Advocaat I only got one sip and I loathed it. I also thought it looked like someone had dropped an uncooked eggo on the floor and left it for a few days :o)

          Then when I grew up my sister developed a liking for the stuff mixed with lemonade - a "snowball". I'd sometimes get offered a drink and I have to say I didn't mind it at all.

          But I still think of Advocaat as very much a girls drink for some reason I can't quite put my finger on.

          I still buy bottles of Advocaat from the supermarket as my girlfriend's relation like it and of course for my sister, but I don't think I've ever bought a bottle in for myself -even though I enjoy it on occasion.

          But I'm getting a little ahead of myself, for those of you who have never tried the alcoholic drink Advocaat it is a liqueur made chiefly from from eggs brandy. In consistency and creaminess it is perhaps reminiscent of Baileys Irish Cream, though the tastes are incomparable.

          To my taste buds Advocaat has a nice warm kick from the brandy and other blended spirits while the egg yolk gives the creamy texture and smoothness.

          Not being a connoisseur of Advocaat I only buy the expensive named brands as presents the rest of the time I opt for supermarket home brands to save money as I can't tell any huge difference between them. Branded bottles are often around £11 or £12 but you can easily get this down to £7 or £8 with home brands, possibly even better if you shop around.


          ** In conclusion **

          Advocaat will forever be a girly drink as far as I'm concerned -but that doesn't mean I won't have the odd "snowball" when it's offered :o)

          In my list of favourite liqueurs it's way below Baileys but it's very nice once in a while I think

          Thanks for reading my review.
          Mike XX

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          • Milky Bar Moments / Chocolate / 17 Readings / 16 Ratings
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            06.05.2010 17:31
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            Eating a Moment is a good way to spend a Moment :o)

            ** Milky Bar Moments **

            I'm a big fan of the bog standard Milky Bars to start with, as well as a self confessed white chocolate addict so Milky Bar Moments are very much on my radar.

            My favourite white chocolate is probably a draw between Nestles Milky Bar and Toblerone White Chocolate Bar but I'm up for most variations thereof.

            Milky Bar Moments are small white chocolate centres with a crisp sugary shell around them. The design is in some ways akin to what Cadbury's do with their mini eggs; a sugar based bland hard covering to their milk chocolate centred eggs -except that in the case of Milky Bar Moments the interior is white chocolate, they are a lot smaller and there are no clever design colours on the outer shell it's just a creamy white colour.

            The important thing though is the taste and I think on the whole that Milky Bar Moments deliver. I know white chocolate is not to everyone's tastes but if you do like it then I don't think you'll be disappointed with Milky Bar Moments.

            The white chocolate melts nicely in my mouth after biting through the crispy shell and there is that full creamy after-taste once the sweet has been swallowed that I think is the mark of a good white chocolate.

            If you have never tried white chocolate before, despite the colour it tastes very similar to milk chocolate except it has a little less coco depth to the flavour and a little more creaminess.

            I found Milky Bar Moments to have that want-another-one appeal as soon as I'd finished the previous sweet. But with 175 grams of sweets in a bag there were plenty to satisfy even my cravings.


            ** My verdict **

            I don't think that Milky Bar Moments knock either my favourite white chocolate Toblerone or Milky Bar's off the top spot, but they do offer something a bit different to the usual milk chocolate offerings and I enjoy them. All that for little more than the price of a flutter on the Lotto. I paid £1.20 at my local newsagent though I've seen from other reviews that you can save money by buying them from supermarkets.

            Thanks for reading my review.
            Mike XX

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            • Nestle Crunch / Chocolate / 29 Readings / 29 Ratings
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              22.03.2010 04:21
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              Not bad but nothing special. I'd buy more if they were cheaper

              ** Nestle Crunch **

              The Nestle Crunch bar was -so I first thought- a new one on me until fairly recently but as I have a very sweet tooth I was bound to get one sooner or later! I like Nestle chocolate anyway although not as much as Mars and Cadbury chocolate.

              The Nestle Crunch is an oblong bar of milk chocolate mixed with rice that is split into segments that you can break off. I liked the mixing of rice into the chocolate it worked well for me and made the chocolate taste less dense and add more variety.

              I am not convinced it is particularly crunchy though it does lean slightly in that direction. It was a nice change from the supermarket home brand chocolate I often buy but then it was 3 or 4 times the price too at just over a pound for a 100 gram bar of Nestle Crunch.

              I don't think I would buy it often. If you remeber the start of my review I said I thought I hadn't tried it before but I have a feeling that I have tried it before when I was a child but the packaging was completely different so when I saw the Nestle Crunch on display it didn't ring any bells. Still it has been so long since I have tried a Nestle Crunch it may have well has been the first time.

              If the taste and memory of a Nestle Crunch didn't stay with me from my childhood years I can't have been all that impressed with it. So that for me is the problem, Nestle Crunch is nice but unremarkable and easy to forget. I would still try them every once in a while now I know what they are again!


              ** in conclusion **

              The Nestle Crunch is quite enjoyable but but somehow unmemorable or unremarkable when compared to some of the other confectionery by Cadbury and Mars. If they dropped the price I'd buy them a lot more often though.

              Thanks for reading my review.
              Mike xx

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                22.03.2010 03:59
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                Very good but I would only buy them for bad colds as they are not cheap

                ** Lemsip Max Cold & Flu Lemon **

                I've had nothing but colds since Christmas I think this is the worst year for colds and flu that I can remember. I am so looking forward to the hot weather and warm summer nights :o)

                Thankfully I haven't had a hint of a cold this week but I had a bad one a few weeks ago and to help my girlfriend bought me a packet of Lemsip Max Cold & Flu Lemon which I believe cost around £4.50 from the chemist she passes on the way back from work.

                Having boiled the kettle and poured one of the ten sachets into a cup I didn't think the Lemsip Max Cold & Flu Lemon looked very dissimilar to normal Lemsip. I can't comment on the smell as my nose was quite blocked at the time.

                After letting the drink cool slightly I started sipping it. The sharp lemon taste really cut through my cold and made my nose and throat feel a lot clearer. It was at least half an hour after drinking the Lemsip Max Cold & Flu Lemon that I started to feel a bit better in myself though. My head was definately feeling a little less bunged up.

                After a couple of hours I felt a lot better except my sneezing continued here and there. The effects did wear off eventually but I had one more sachet that day before I went to bed and one further one the next day.

                After that I flet a lot better so have saved the remaining 7 sachets of Lemsip Max Cold & Flu Lemon in cas any one else catches a cold and needs them

                I'm not sure whether the Lemsip Max Cold & Flu Lemon really shortened the length of my cold or whether it simply eased the symptoms and that was what made me feel better. But the important thing is it made a positive difference and I'm glad I had the Lemsips to hand.


                ** In conclusion **

                I am very glad I had a packet of Lemsip Max Cold & Flu Lemon when I had my worst cold of the year so far. It may not cure the cold but it helped me get through it and be able to get on with what I wanted to do instead of sitting round the house feeling poorly.

                Thanks for reading my review.
                Mike xx

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                22.03.2010 03:35
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                For the money it cost I can't say a bad word about it. Recommended

                ** Sainsbury's Basics Creamed Tomato Soup **

                On our weekly shopping trips we tend to lean heavily on cheap supermarket home brands as they help stretch out our shopping budget to include more choice than if we'd spent all our money on the bigger brands.

                A few shopping trips back we went to Sainsbury's and dipped into their basics range of home brand food. Among the the items we bought two tins of Sainsbury's Basics Creamed Tomato Soup.

                Everyone in the house loves soup though we do have a few differing opinions on which flavour is best. But with rock solid choices like tomato soup you can be sure of not upsetting anyone at the table.

                Most of the time meals are very fragmented as not everyone is around at the same time. 9 times out of 10 I dine with my girlfriend but once or twice a week much lie the planets of the solar system lining up the whole family are actually in the house and hungry at the same time.

                It was at one of these get-togethers that we opted for soup and toast for supper. To be sure there was enough Sainsbury's Basics Creamed Tomato Soup to go round we opened both tins at once and poured them into a saucepan. At 17 pence a tin it still didn't cost as much as buying a single can of branded soup.

                The soup had a healthy red tomato colour and smelt lovely while it was warming up. I was next to the cooker doing the toast while the soup was simmering and I must say the aroma was mouthwatering.

                My mom was cooking it and she gave it a stir every once in a while but I could see no hit on an unpleasant skin forming over the soup, it just looked really nice.

                Pouring it out into the dishes we all sat down with trays in the living room to eat the soup while watching a film on TV. I know everyone enjoyed the soup as much as me because there was a lack of the usual sarcastic film scene commentary that accompanies any family film watching in my house :o)

                I found the Sainsbury's Basics Creamed Tomato Soup very tasty. It lacked the thickness of some more expensive soups I've tried but I couldn't fault the taste. It was full of tomato flavour and a delight to dip my toast into.


                ** in conclusion **

                Any soup that can shut my noisy family up for five minutes has got to be pretty good. I can't believe how good Sainsbury's Basics Creamed Tomato Soup is for the money.

                Thanks for reading my review.
                Mike xx

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                22.03.2010 03:13
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                2 seasons of clever comedy for very little money. A real bargain I feel

                ** Hi-De-Hi! - Series 1 & 2 (DVD) **

                We buy a lot of old films and series on DVD for the family collection. I was delighted to pick up 2 series of the
                Hi-De-Hi! sitcom for a mere £6.99 including super saver delivery on Amazon recently.

                Hi-De-Hi! as you proabably know was a sitcom based around the employers at a 1950's Maplins Holiday camp. Maplins is obviously a thinly veiled reference to Butlins.

                The show was written by non other than Perry and Croft who also wrote Dad's Army. The plot revolves around the replacement manager Jeffrey Fairbrother a clumsy hopelessly naive academic character and his efforts to pull the shows together while much mayhem goes on around him.

                The mayhem being supplied by some wonderful supporting characters like the burned out comic Ted Bovis who is forever thinking up scams and his young far more honest sidekick Spike who is endless tumbling into swimming pools as part of the act. Also there is Peggy the chalet maid who dreams eternal of becoming a Yellow Coat entertainer herself. I still laugh everytime I see the Gladys Pugh character hitting her little chimes and shouting "Hello Campers". The other support characters are fun to like the grumpy children's entertainer or the dance instructor couple who don't get on well. Much like George Cole's "her indoors" in Minder, Joe Maplin who owns the Maplins Holiday Camp is never actually seen though often referred to! I love the clever interplay of the various characters and the clever nod to a microcosm of a class system right there in the holiday camp. Manager Jeffrey Fairbrother unsteadily at the top trying to hold on and Peggy the chalet maid unhappily at the bottom trying to climb up with everyone else vying for position in-between.

                The humour in Hi-Di-Hi is wonderfully gentle humour. The episode plots are usually very good and I really enjoyed revisiting the episodes although I still think Dad's Army is even better.

                But for £6.99 for 3 DVD's I'm more than happy! I wish Holiday Camps were really like this. I'd never holiday anywhere else!

                Thanks for reading my review.
                Mike xx

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                  22.03.2010 02:40
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                  Brilliant, buy it!

                  ** Porridge - The Complete Series (DVD) **

                  All my family are big Ronnie Barker fans. I am just young enough to remember most of the Porridge episodes when I was a child and they were first broadcast. We decided to buy the complete series on DVD last year. Currently the series can be bought from Amazon for just under £26.

                  Remarkably the series was only made between 1974 - 1976 so had a much shorter run than Ronnie Barker's Open All Hours seies. But perhaps Porridge seems like it lasted longer because it is so funny and well put together. Both Open All Hours and Porridge came out of Ronnie Barkers 7 of 1 series of one of comedies on different subjects. But as we know 2 of those supposed one offs turned into 2 of the finest British comedies of all time.

                  Porridge is all about the fortunes of one Norman Stanley Fletcher a loveable criminal and his life in prison. There is a constant battle between Norman to get one over on the prison guards especially the wonderfully stern Mr Mr Mackay while avoiding the attention of the powerful crime lord Harry Grout better known as Grouty.

                  I think the balancing act of Norman played by Ronnie Barker walking this constant tight rope of trying to get one up on the "screws" while keeping out of the way of major villains is brilliant. In some episodes Norman is the father figure to other younger inmates especially the brilliantly played Lennie Godber by Richard Beckinsale.

                  I saw an interview with Ronnie on TV once and he said originally he thought Porridge should be like Seargent Bilko in prison. However he let himself be led by the writers and team into doing a much grittier portrayal of prison life to bounce the comedy off. good job he did too. Porridge is just superb. Look out for appearances by well known faces in some episodes like David Jason and Christopher Biggins.

                  The DVD set came on 4 disks and also included the Christmas Specials as well as all three of the series. I prefer watching the 30 minute episodes on DVD instead of when they repeat them on TV as some of the dialogue is cut on TV because it is not politically correct. Pathetic of the TV companies I know but that is the sad state of the television at the moment. So if you want the undiluted proper versions while making like Norman Stanley Fletcher and sticking a proverbial two fingers up to the powers that be treat yourself to this fantastic set of DVD's.

                  Thanks for reading my review.
                  Mike xx

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                  21.03.2010 07:13
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                  Above average show. Not brilliant but fun if there's nothing better on

                  ** Q.I. Quite Interesting **

                  In the mould of great programs like Have I Got News For You a host of slightly different comedy panel shows have sprung up in the last decade or so. One of the more successful is Q.I. Quite Interesting which is like Have I Got News For You meets University Challenge.

                  Q.I. is hosted by Stephen Fry who himself made many appearances on University College in his Uni days. Stephen is a likeable enough character but suffers from being one of the new breed of celebrities who do lots of things but are not particularly great at any of them. Acting, show hosting, documentaries and so on Fry is everywhere lately. The phrase Jack Of All Trades comes to mind. As a teenager Stephen Fry even tried crime once too, long before becoming a well known TV personality. He wasn't particularly good at that either though and got sent to prison!

                  Joining Fry are two competing teams who work their way through the novel premise of trying to be less ignorant than the other team rather than cleverer. As if to make this point final scores can often be in the minuses and a score of 0 is often considered a good one.

                  This is amusing and unsurprising as the whole show revolves around questions that people think they know the answer to but in fact the answer is a lot stranger or different from the expected.

                  I feel that the Q.I. team do sometimes have bend and stretch definitions and terms around about to make the questions with unusual answers work. But that can be amusing in itself. There have even been a few mistakes in the supposed correct answers to questions that Fry gives.

                  Thanks to the repeats on the Dave freeview TV channel you can watch out for these to amuse yourself or win a few pub bets. In one episode involving a question about how helium changes your voice Fry wrongly gives the answer "tambre". I have an awesome musician friend who put me right. The answer is really "timbre". There's another pitch related mistake my friend pointed out to me that I wouldn't have noticed where Fry announces pitches and he gets one wrong.

                  I find these flaws in Q.I. really add to the fun. There is something great about a highly educated team of academic nurds getting things completely wrong even if it is only rarely :o)

                  The banter and endless stream of adlib and improvised jokes can be enjoyable with certain guests. Occasionally the guests or Fry go on to long and it gets a bit grating but mostly the comic comments hit the mark.

                  Alan Davies is usually very entertaining and often deliberately commits the cardinal sin of giving the most obvious but invariably wrong answer. This always sets the alarms ringing to great comic effect. Jo Brand is another excellent guest on the show sometimes.


                  ** My conclusion **

                  I don't think you learn much from watching Q.I. it is not educational as most of the knowledge is useless. Like discovering WW2 didn't officially end until a few years ago. But if there is nothing better on the show can be entertaining.

                  Especially now I know not all the answers are correct. I'm hoping to find mistake number 3 sometime soon.
                  Thanks for reading my review.

                  Thanks for reading my review.
                  Mike xx

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