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platypuskn

platypuskn
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Member since: 27.11.2006

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    • School Lunches / Discussion / 24 Readings / 22 Ratings
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      22.04.2007 19:11
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      Chips, or chips and cheese?

      When I was at secondary school there were two options on the menu for school lunches.

      Option one - Chips
      Option two - chips with cheese

      Now, I'm not joking, thats all there was. So, it wasn't exactly surprising that most people went elsewhere. Unfortuantly, it was generally to the chip shop becasue, wait for it, they sold things as well as chips. Admittedly burgers, or fish, or chicken nuggets, but still a lot better than chip or chips and cheese!

      I was told there were several reasons for this, namely cost/facilities and childrens preferences.

      OK, lets address the second of these - childrens preferences! I would like to point out that most children don't want to eat chips and just chips every day for lunch, any more than eating anything else every single day. Most of us went home or got packed lunches. And, believe it or not there was a scattering of fruit, sandwiches with the odd lettuce leaf, and even the occasional bottle of water. We would have used the canteen, but there was no actual food!

      Now onto the other 'excuse'.

      Lack of facilities to cook proper food, and lack of funds. Now, we've all heard about Jamie Oliver and the attempt to make school dinners healthier. And, yes, it does cost a bit more. But, frankly, the dinner ladies in my local school must have been bored out their minds cooking mainly chips, chips and chips!

      Please note the 'mainly' used in that last sentence. Because, it turned out that there were brilliant meals being cooked at my secondary school. Curries, roasts, stews, steamed puddings... But, they were all sent to the local special needs school. Apparently the parents of people with special needs have the sense to demand proper food for their kids, but nt ours!!!

      Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

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        21.04.2007 16:39
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        A hollow apology is worse than nothing!

        I personally think we have no right to apologise for the slave trade. There are two entirelly different reasons I feel this way.

        First of all, none of us were around at that point. Yes, many rich families today made their wealth due to slavery, but that cannot be blamed on the individuals alive now. I'm sure many of them feel ashamed for their families part in the trade, but things were unfortunatly different back then. Slavery was not just a black vs white thing. There were plenty of bare-footed white kids down mines, or working in factories under similar awful conditions. Many mining towns were essentially cut off from the rest of society, with tokens to buy food rather than money, no access to transport or decent clothes, and no option but to work in the mines until death. Never called slaves perhaps, and not taken from their home country, but certainly enslaved in the broader sense of the term.

        The second issue I have with the idea of apologising for the slave trade is that it still exists today. There are sex slaves, children working in sweat shops, and no doubt millions more effectively enslaved by pitiful wages and working conditions.

        How can we apologise for things that happened in the past when things have not all changed? Can anyone buying cheap clothes or cheap ornaments really kid themselves that the people making them were paid properly and choosing to do that kind of work? And if you see a young foreign prostitute on the streets, can you really pretend that she's there by choice?

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        • Train safety / Discussion / 22 Readings / 19 Ratings
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          27.02.2007 18:34
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          Great way to travel, but theres an accident, its gonna be bad

          The problem with trains, and for that matter planes or buses, is that they carry an awful lot of people. Therefore, if something goes wrong it goes wrong for potentially hundreds rather than just a handful. That is why train crashes make the news without exception whereas the numerous car crashes which have no doubt occurred today are unlikely to even make national papers.

          The recent train accident in Cumbria was very unfortunate, and I feel nothing but sympathy for those involved. However, I also feel great sympathy for anyone killed, injured or scared on the roads today.

          In a one hour trip the other day I had the 'pleasure' of umpteen stupid people overtaking dangerously on a windy road, and a moterbike almost hitting me when also overtaking at a bad time. If I had wavered slightly in any of these cases there would more than likely have been a bad accident. And that is one of the advantages with trains - being fixed on a rail means no overtaking and no wavering!

          Also, everyone on a train is in the hands of just a few individuals, generally the driver and people involved in the signals. These people are trained and monitored, and you know that safety checks are in place. However, if going by road people are all around you also driving at speed. Any one might be drunk or driving without a licence or in an unsafe car. Nobody else checks these people are safe. And, of course, the drivers are likely to be distracted by screaming children, roadside advertising, mobile phones and all sorts of other hazards. Drivers in cars are also not subject to working regulations, and don't need to have breaks or time off for meals. Hence tired car drivers with lack of concentration often.

          No, there may be problems with train travel, but given the options I think it's the way to go!

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            21.02.2007 17:10
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            Skinny people have feelings too

            OK, so everyone judges on first appearances, but I have a plea to make...

            .... Stop judging thin people.....

            It seems that it has become popular to have a go at slim people. The news is full of stories about the dangers of small models, and talk shows are always going on about how its better to be curvy.

            Well, believe me, I'd like to be a bit more curvy. I'm a size 8. But I can't help it - it's just my shape. Yet, people assume I must be on a constant diet or be annorexic or something. I have had all sorts of names flung at me in the past.

            And now the media are getting in on the act too. Can't laugh at a fat person any more, too politically incorrect. So, lets all pick on the skinny ones?

            Please stop telling me I'll never get a man unless I have massive breasts.
            Please stop saying I'm wilting away
            Please stop telling me no-one likes a bean pole
            Any please stop making jokes about lettuce leaves!

            Skinny people have feelings too, and this is just how some of us are built!!! I'd like to see models of all sizes and shapes - the natural way!

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            • Pan's Labyrinth (2 DVDs) / DVD / 16 Readings / 13 Ratings
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              21.02.2007 16:59
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              It will move you more than any other film

              Believe it or not this is my third attempt at writing a review for Pan's Labyrinth. I was so overwhelmed by the film that I was entirelly unsatisfied wth my last two attempts, which were deleted as soon as written.

              The problem with this film is that there is no way of making it sound good. I ended up seeing it merely because my fiance and his family were all going and I didn't want left out. I was told it was a subtitled Spanish fairytale loosely based on some paintings by Giger, none of which particularly appealed to me. Yet this is no way does justice to the masterpiece that Guillermo del Toro has created. It was not some sort of Disney fairytale as I expected, but a very dark and moving portrayal of the life of an innocent yet terrified child.

              Brief Plot
              -----------

              The film is set in 1944 at the end of the Spanish civil war. 12-year-old Ofelia (Ivana Baquero), is forced to accompany her ill and heavily pregnant mother to a remote area of Northern Spain. There her step-father Captain Vidal (Sergi Lopez), who has been sent to control the militia, looks forward to the birth of his child.

              Unfortunately, the Captain is not overly interested in the welfare of either Ofelia or her mother. Ofelia is terrified of the Captain, and chooses to lock herself away in the fantasy world of fairy tales. As Ofelia's mother becomes weaker, and the Captian more violent, Ofelia turns more and more to her fantasy world. She discovers she is actually a long-lost Princess, and has to fight to regain her destiny. Meanwhile, the real world violence becomes ever closer to the people Ofelia cares about.

              Characters
              --------------

              The four main characters are all beautifully cast.

              Ofelia (Daughter) - Ivana Baquero
              Carmen (Mother) - Ariadna Gil
              Captain Vidal (Step-Father) - Sergi Lopez
              Faun - Doug Jones

              Ivana Basquero played her part with so much magic she is clearly destined for a life on the screen. Certain parts could have been cringeworthy if played too obviously, but her performance left much of the audience in tears. Sergi Lopez was also wonderful as an evil man with a great deal of depth and even an ounce of humanity peeking through. Far more layers that in a typical 'bad' character.

              Is it a fairy tale?
              --------------------

              On a simplistic note, this film does make a wonderful fairy tale. It has all the important elements - magic, monsters and secret lands. It could be viewed as a tale of good and bad, with good winning through in the end (of course)!

              However, think that labelling this film a fairy tale is rather misleading. All fairy tales have an element of truth, and put forward morals in the form of stories. But, they are stories which are supposed to be taken at face value i.e. they are tales of imagination and fantasy.

              In contrast, I believe that Pan's Labyrinth is a look at how stress affects children. Ofelia was an only child with no friends, an ill mother and a violent step-father. She was surrounded by war, suspicion and illness. Even the people she began to learn to trust were taken away from her. Impossible pressures were being placed upon her, especially the feeling that her mothers illness was her fault.

              Under such stress even adults crack. Some turn to drink or drugs, others end up losing their memories or going missing. Ofelia turned to the only safe place she knew - fairy tales. In the same way that some adults with OCD feel their family will be ok if only they flick switches a certain number of times, or keep checking things, Ofelia felt everything would be ok if only she could do certain tasks (supposedly for a faun). As her mother became iller, she blamed herself because she had not completed the tasks. If only she could do these things correctly her mother and unborn brother would be ok, and they would all be happy.

              To complete her tasks, Ofelia had to battle various monsters. The monsters in the fantasy world corresponded with monsters in the real world, so that the two storylines merged sucessfully. As bad things happened in the real world, so this was mimiked in the world Ofelia had created. I suppose this shows that it is impossible to hide from your problems, even in your own fantasy world.

              Anyone who has ever been stressed to the point of mental health problems will know how tempting it is to disappear into another world. But you will also know that it solves nothing. The difference is that Ofelia was a child, and not in a situation of any influence on her own situation. Therefore, the only place she could have any influence was in her own imagination.

              This film demonstrated why war is such an evil force - it causes pain among children as well as those adults involved. Yet it also shows how vulnerable any child can be to stress. All Ofelia wanted to do was protect her family, which is not much to ask.

              Overall
              ---------

              I feel that no review can do this film justice. It is a magical story if you wish, but far too violent to just be seen as a fairy tale. No - it's a chilling view of the realities of war and stress.

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                06.12.2006 19:25
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                A few of my embaressing moments

                Embaressing moments, eh? Well, we've all had a few. Hopefully these should give you a giggle or two.

                1. I was working as a science presenter, and helping with a show about fire. Now, I'm sure you know this trick. Hold a match underneath a balloon and it will pop. Hold one underneath a balloon filled with water and it won't. We normally got a child up to hold the balloons over their head to add to the fun, but on this occassion no-one volunteered. So, good old me ended up in the hot seat. Needless to say, it all went wrong for some unknown reason and I got totally soaked. Spent the whole day very damp, and being laughed at by kids, parents and other staff. And, of course, the point of the demostration was entirelly lost.

                2. Picture the scene- a big bunch of hyper kids at a birthday party waiting for a bubble show. Yes, a bubble show! Basically an excuse to make some giant bubbles, get shrieks of amazement from the kids and entertain them while the hosting parents get a bit of rest. Except this lot of kids were truly off their heads on sugar and additives from the previous birthday feast (y'know- bright green fizzy drinks, birthday cake and such like). Anyway, things started badly, and I seemed to lose control of the kids. The birthday girl kept jumping up and down, even though they'd been told to stay on their seats. Wouldn't listen, and the parents didn't care. After all, it was her birthday! Hardly unusual, but after one big jump the girl missed her seat again and ended up on the floor. There was an awful silence then screaming followed by a rush of parents. The poor girl had only bruised herself, but I was certainly not popular. A trip for her to A&E followed as parents were concerned she might have injured her back. I, on the other hand, had to finish the bubble show to a group of unimpressed kids and concerned adults. Rather embaressing!

                3. I decided to take a short cut down a street, but didn't notice the sign warning of road works. I got to the roadworks (blocking the entire road), so had to turn back. However, it was a one way street. So, my only option was to carry on back along the (long) street against the one way system. I got waved at, flashed at, yelled at, and someone came out to bang on my window. apparently I was breaking the law! But what else could I do? And, more to the point, why were there cars going the opposite way? I never did find out what was happening, but I certainly have never had so much (adverse) attention while driving.

                Deary me.. isn't life fun!

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                • Gerbils / Pet / Animal / 23 Readings / 21 Ratings
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                  01.12.2006 18:23
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                  Fascinating wee creatures

                  You probably all know about gerbils and their amazing kidneys. I bet you all remember the diagrams of how their kidneys re-absorb so much water, and so they never need to drink. I'm sure I learned about them for about three years in a row at school.

                  But,did you know they make fantastic pets. Alledgedlymore intelligent than rats!

                  Anyway, I thought I'd divide this review up into a few sections, so you can skip through to specific bits if you want.

                  Gerbil history

                  Gerbils originally came from Mongolia and China, and started becoming pets in the 1960s. They aren't wild caught any more though, as they are very easy to breed in captivity. Like rate and mice, they are often used for scientific research. However, there isn't actually much known about gerbils in the wild.

                  The natural colour for a gerbil is sandy with white underneath, but they have now been bred in black, white, mottled, grey,...

                  Anatomy

                  Gerbils start off life as naked pink balls in a litter of one to ten. Once fully grown they are a bit larger than mice, about 10cm plus a 10cm tail fully grown, and have buldging eyes and particularly long feet. Gerbils can live 2-3 years, although my previous gerbils lived 3 1/2. They are prone to tumours, so anything unusual, go to the vet. Apart from this, gerbils tend to be very hardy.

                  Buying gerbils

                  Gerbils make great pets for children or adults. They become far tamer than most hamsters, and don't take up too much room. They are also easy to either take with you on holiday or get someone to look after. They can even survive quite happily with extra food if you go away for the weekend.

                  Gerbils cost about five pounds each. Look for a pet shop with knowledgeable staff who are prepared to spend time helping you choose. Look for bright eyes and glossy fur. As hard as it may seem, avoid any looking miserable, huddling in a corner or with a bloody nose (a sign of vicious fighting). Gerbils live in groups, so choose two or three, preferably single sex siblings. Do not try to mix adults of different litters, as they may even kill each other.

                  Behaviour

                  Gerbils are very active wee creatures, generally awake during the day apart from various naps. It's not surprising they need these breaks during the day, as they are contantly on the go. As a result, it is important to give gerbils lots to do as well as company. They love running in wheels once they get the nack (though babies can get trapped between the bars of open wheels and crushed). They also like burrowing (provide deep sawdust or sand), chewing (give wooden toys and bits of paper to gnaw on) and climbing (on bars, bits of wood or specially designed toys).

                  Be warned though, if its chewable, they will chew it. I have holes in clothes to prove it! Other favourite troublesome activities include getting stuck inside chairs (had to cut one out once), chewing their way out of cages (avoid ones with plastic tubes connecting different enclosures) and being impossible to catch.

                  When you first get your gerbils, leave them alone for a few days to adjust to their new home (sights, smells, noises...). Then, let them start sniffing your hand. Don't put out a finger, as they may grab and bite it thinking its food. But, do offer bits of food so they begin to trust you. Then, allow them to climb onto your hand, and eventually take them out for longer and longer periods. They will come to trust and like you, and climb all over you. Be prepared for the odd dropping on your clothes while they are still nervous though.

                  You will notice your gerbils watching you, and will often get up when you enter a room if have been in bed. Watch out though, it doesn't take them long to work out how to escape if this is possible. So, any problems with your cage need repaired instantly!

                  Feeding

                  There are plenty brands of gerbil food, and more are ok. Just make sure the food is dry and not musty smelling. Keep it in a cool dark place, and supplement the diet with little bits of friut and veg and some vitamin drops. Gerbils particularly like apple, carrot and grape. You can also get gerbil treats like chocolate drops and fruit flavoured bites. These are ok if you use only ocassionally. Theoretically gerbils don't need to drink, but captive gerbils will never get an ideal diet. So, provide a water bottle (not dish as this will get tipped over or dirty). If your gerbil drinks a lot, this might be a sign of illness or stress.

                  Housing

                  Gerbils seem to prefer cages without bars on the floor (after all, you wouldn't want the danger of twisting your ankle). They need plenty of bedding including sawdust/sand and tissue paper to make a nest. Loo roll is fine, as they will enjoy shredding it themselves. They will decide for themselves where to build their nest, and won't always use one provided. They will also adapt it depending upon the temperature.

                  They like climbing and jumping, so a cage on several layers is best. Plastic and wooden toys will generally get destroyed after a while. Instead, why not give your gerbils things like loo rolls/kitchen rolls, small cardboard boxes and sticks. Rodents teeth and claws constantly grow, so they need something like this to help wear them down.

                  A cage will cost anything from £30 upwards. A more expensive cage is not necessarily better as you can add your own toys/accessories.

                  Cages need the droppings removed every couple of days, and a full clean out once or twice a week depending on how many gerbils you have and the cage size. Gerbils shouldn't smell, and the cages are easy to clean because they rarely pee!

                  Breeding

                  I wouldn't suggest breeding, as there is a great surplus of gerbils on sale.

                  How to catch an escaped gerbil!!!

                  It's ok to let gerbils run around outside their cage if you make sure its safe (no way to escape the room, nothing poisonous, no other animals about). Just watch your feet,as they tend to like dancing around them! Gerbils tend to run in short bursts, stopping every now and again to stand up tall on their back feet to look around. However, they are far faster than you or I, so you need to out-wit them to re-catch them. Try putting down a long cardboard tube or box, as you can sometimes catch them inside. Alternatively, throwing a light tea towel over them can slow them down just enough to bundlethem up. They do catch onto such methods quickly though. A friend of mine let them out to run around once and didn't catch them for a whole day! Having said that,some will return home themselves if you leave the cage open and some food in it.

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                    01.12.2006 16:40
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                    Probably best for undergraduates?

                    I can't comment on how good Glamorgan is for undergraduates, but I did spend a year doing an MSc there. I think this gives a very different insight into a place. I had already done the mad student Fresher thing, so had different priorities.

                    The most obvious problem was its location - quite far outside Cardiff. However, this didn't actually turn out to be much of a hassle, as there were brilliant train links, which weren't too expensive when armed with a student card. Lots of people live on campus too, and I did notice plenty of accomodation still for let there well into the academic year.

                    The university itself has good faciliites including a reasonably sized library, good computing facilities, cheap grub and drink in the union (however, I would recommed avoiding the curry special, as it was barely edible, and formed a congealed mass on my plate) and a lovely sandwich shop. There are also lots of sports and clubs on offer - everything from yoga to canoeing.

                    However, I was based in Cardiff itself, rather than on campus, which was a problem as I was less inclined to make the trip especially to use the facilities. This seemed to be a problem, as many students chose to live in Cardiff instead of nearer.

                    Lectures were rather unsatisfying. The content of my stats classes were aimed at people doing healthcare rather than what I was doing (science communication), so none of the examples made sense to me. In fact, at times it appeared that no-one had heard of my MSc course. I even got an invitation to a graduation ceremony to take place before I would finish the course, which was rather confusing.

                    On a more positive note, we had great contact with other departments, including business, and people such as the guys who ran the student radio station.

                    I would say that some courses are percieved as more important than others at Glamorgan. I was paying a lot to do my MSc, and felt rather short-changed at points. However, the university itself was well-designed with good facilities, so it is possible I was just unlucky. Having said that, though, I had never heard of the university before deciding to take the course. The course I did has also now been cancelled, and the partners it was provided with have changed to Cardiff University instead.

                    I suspect that undergraduates all think their university is the best ever though, as its often their first chance to break free from their parents!

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                      30.11.2006 17:21
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                      Thanks for making me well again!

                      Ok, slim fast is just for dieting, right? Wrong!

                      Believe it or not, I actually used slim fast for exactly the opposite reason on and off for about a year. The reason? I had really bad glandular fever. My throat was swollen, I could hardly bare to swallow because of the pain, and I was really weak.

                      My local pharmacy did sell some meal replacement drinks designed to help ill people, but they were a small shop and soon sold out (my boyfriend got the fever too!!!). So, they suggested slim fast.

                      The idea of slim fast is that it is nutritionally balanced, and helps you to lose weight. But the reason you lose weight is a reduced calory intake overall, not anything missing in terms of content. So, I drank lots of the stuff in all flavours, shapes and forms. This, in combination with the odd bit of mash, and bananas, pretty much kept me alive for a few weeks.

                      So, thankyou Slim Fast for helping me put on weight!

                      The shakes are quite thick, so more satisfying than some other brands. They are also just ready to go, which is certainly good for ill people. The choice of flavours is also good as, believe me, even chocolate gets boring after the third shake!

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                        30.11.2006 17:11
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                        Don't try to be a super hero - take some!

                        I was brought up a house where the only medicines in the cupboard were calpol (for when I was younger) and the odd paracetamol. Therefore, I had never tried anything like a cough medicine, and to be honest thought they were for weak-minded people.

                        Boy, was I wrong! In my first year of university I was nearly always ill with some sort of bug or another. Nothing uncommon there - Freshers Flu, late nights and alcohol all added to a never-ending cold (not that it stopped us partying!).

                        At one point about Christmas I got a really bad cold complete with awful cough. I coughed endlessly, and ended up with terribly sore ribs. Yet still I resisted such black magic as cough medicine! Everyone around me was downing the stuff, but I thought I could hack it (literally) without.

                        Then, one day, I heard that its possible to actually break your ribs by coughing. I was so sore by this time that I relented and got some Sudafed. I have NEVER been so surprised, and relieved, at the results. For the space of a few hours I could breathe without coughing, which helped my bruised muscles to heal.

                        The stuff tastes disgusting, and looks horrible too. It's also pretty thick, and you can feel it slowly oozing down your throat - yuck! But, it works!!!! You can breathe again, and don't get stared at like you're carrying the plague!

                        I also pretty much lived off stuff like this when I had glandular fever.

                        So, if you're like me and think medicine is for wimps, think again. Theres no need to break your ribs over some stupid principle. Just be thankful stuff like this exists. And works!

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                          29.11.2006 22:51
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                          How could anyone ever leave him?

                          There once was a car called Henry. He was a wonderful bright red five door corsa club, born in the year 2002. While other cars came and went, Henry proudly carried on. Until, that is, his owner took him to have an MOT. Whilst there, this evil owner took a fancy to a flashy new car and left poor Henry to wait for another owner, even though fit as a fiddle.

                          He was polished and preened, and left outside. And, low and behold, along came a newly qualified driver. Oh no, he thought, a brand new driver. Just how long can I possibly last?

                          Well, two years later, Henry has settled well to his new life. Ok, so his exhaust needed replaced, and a couple of tyres, but what do you expect when owned by a countryside ranger. He gets covered in mud, but always comes up shining. [As long as polish is used that is, as red corsa's tend to fade in the sun]. He goes where other cars slip and slide, even though he's not to quick off the block.

                          As for feeding time, well, he's just not fussy. Forget little and often, he barely touches a drop. He doesn't like too much oil, or water or grease. In fact, he's never been sick once. Well, except for a small problem with the handbrake... On one cold, cold wintery day, he decided just to stay put. He dug in his heels, and refused to budge till a man with a hammer hit his back feet. The nice man said Corsas don't like frost mixed with a handbrake, so try to leave them on the flat in a blizzard!

                          Inside, Henry should be easy to keep clean (thats if you don't always wear muddy boots)! He's got a lovely tape player to make you nostalgic, and seats that adjust to little or large. His boot could be bigger, but then he'd be harder to park.

                          Only one slight problem, which you'll already know. Look in a car park and you'll find hundreds of Corsa's. So make sure you put something on top of the ariel..

                          As for Henry, he's many years left. Not worth nicking cause really pretty cheap, and it seems like he just keeps running forever so well. And, ifhedid need an operation, well, the parts are sure cheap!

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                        • Without a Trace / TV Programme / 19 Readings / 15 Ratings
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                          29.11.2006 20:25
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                          Not much missing from this series!

                          Without a Trace is one of those programmes you come across by accident. I had never heard of it before being bored one evening and deciding to just sit and watch whatever looked the most promising.

                          Now, you should know that I only had fours channels to choose from - I am a rare being without Sky or Digital. Anyway, straight away I got hooked into the storyline. The basic idea is that someone has gone missing. Perhaps this is noticed by work collegues, family or friends. Either way, the team is called in to help search for the mising adult or child.

                          This may sound a very simple format, and it is. But many of the best tv programmes are. Unlike some murder mystery series, the characters don't just keep happening upon the mysteries (like poor Jessica Fletcher in Murder She Wrote). They are members of the FBI, and so employed to do this kind of thing. I think this makes the programme seem a bit more realistic. Every day has a new mystery because, well, thats what they team does.

                          The stories are also generally quite twisty, which is necessary for any programme over half an hour. A recent episode aired on channel 4 was about a kid being kidnapped. Several possabilities are thrown about, and various trails followed. It eventually turned out to be something to do with the husband knowing a drug he helped develop is dangerous (I won't give it all away in case you see this episode). So, its not just a simple blackmail thing, or a jealous lover... far more clever.

                          And thats why I like the programme. No two episodes are similar. Each episode can be stand alone, but throughout the series the characters also develop. You get to know about their personal lives, and this adds far greater depth.

                          I think episodes are perhaps only worth watching once, as then you know what the mystery is. However, having said that, many people like watching murder mysteries numerous times, so why not missing person mysteries?

                          One slight flaw is that most mysteries are solved, but in the real world people regularly go missing and are never found. And, of course, rarely have such eventful adverntures on the way.

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                          • Potatoes / Plant / 9 Readings / 6 Ratings
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                            28.11.2006 20:38
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                            So many ways to eat, so little time!

                            There cannot be a better type of food than the humble potato. There is nothing that can't be done to it - baked, mashed, roasted, microwaved, even instant mash from a packet or frozen as chips. In fact, in my world anything goes with potatoes. I have eaten potatoes with everything from stir fries to curry, stew to mince. Then there are potato products, such as waffles, croquettes and chips which you can eat any time with any other combination of food. How about a full cooked breakfast with potato waffles, Lorne sausage, egg, bacon and beans. Or a steaming bag of chips with freshly battered fish? Glorious! Although, you could get all fancy and have potato gratin, or rosemary roasted potatoes. Or how about potato salad (just add salad creme, oil and lemon juice), or simple potatoes boiled with a little bit of fresh mint.

                            Howevr, forget the potatoes you get in shops. Buy some seed potatoes and grow your own. There is nothing like fresh new potatoes straight from the ground. Just remember to wash them first!

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                            • Fopp / Highstreet Shopping / 9 Readings / 8 Ratings
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                              28.11.2006 20:12
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                              If theres one near you your music collection will grow!

                              My life including Fopp started in a small side street in Aberdeen, and my music-buying habits never looked back. Gone were the days of full priced CDs. I dipped into a world where the old classics such as Nirvana and Greenday were all a fiver, and chart CDs often just ten pounds. And they still are! In the past I always waited for CDs to come down in price before buying them. After all, why pay £15 for a CD when half of the songs are all over the TV and radio still? But then came Fopp. In my case,a small two-story shop just off Union Street. A trinket trove of books, CDs and films, both new and old. Although now quite a large chain, the staff are always friendly wherever you go. They never mind looking up a title, or telling you more about a band. They will happily replace anything which has a fault (and we all know these things sometimes happen), and will always have a chat about music or films. Although Fopp now has more DVDs and books, they are still going from strength to strength. It is one of the few shops I feel an attachment to, even though the brand has grown. I htink this is becasue they stock so many older albums as well as new music. Other shops tend to make these very expensive, but you are always guaranteed a good deal at Fopp. Why shop anywhere else?

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                              • Diet Coke / Soft Drink / 5 Readings / 3 Ratings
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                                28.11.2006 20:00

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                                Why not treat yourself to the real thing instead?

                                Why is it that people are never satisfied with how a product is originally. Ok, so perhaps thats a silly statement considering coke used to contain, well, coke... But really, why mess with perfection. In my opinion coke is the be all and end all of colas. A few come close, but none have that refreshing and more-ish flavour, and just enough fizz. Diet coke, on the other hand, just disappoints. I understand that there are many people out there on diets. But why not just drink water instead. I will never understand how someone can order a burger and fries with a diet coke. Is it a way of pretending that you are being good to yourself? I reckon you should stick to the real thing instead. After all, thats how it all started, and it is meant to be a treat!

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