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I own model ZDF 601k which has all the same features but is black. I have owned this machine for approximately 3 years now and so feel I can be fair in my comments as to the longevity and build quality of the machine. Firstly, it looks very nice in black and surprisingly the door is still unmarked,which after 3 years is pretty good going. There are five programmes to choose from which are 70 degree power boost (83mins),60 degree automatic (112mins), 60 degree quick wash (30 mins) 50 degree economy (159mins) and rinse hold (12mins). Of all the programmes I only use the automatic and the rinse hold which is handy if the dishwasher isn't full enough for a full wash but you don't want the food to harden on the plates. Another useful feature is the start delay which can be programmed to delay the start for up to 19 hours. There are five more indicator lights which will tell you the status of the machine and if it needs salt or rinse aid. As well as these the time left on each programme is displayed which I think is a nice feature. Inside of the dishwaser is pretty typical but it does have a light which is quite unusual. Overall the performance of the machine is good, but the tablet dispenser inside the door has a rubber seal on it which tends to come away and when this happens the tablet doesn't come out properly resulting in unclean dishes. This can be frustrating after a 2 hour cycle! Other niggles include the rack for the knives and forks which started losing bits from the bottom mesh after about 10 months. Ifyou put your cutlery in handle downwards they slip through and stop the bottom arm on the dishwasher rotating which again results in unclean dishes. You can purchase another rack but it is around £30 pounds which I think is excessive. Also the automatic wash button has gone "wonky" . This happened after about 8 months but it hasn't fallen off or broken so I assume one of the supports underneath it snapped. On the whole I think the dishwasher is doing pretty well and I have never had any leaks or bad smells emanating from it. Also as already stated it still looks very good. Although the problems I have experienced have been small I still think they are worth mentioning as this is not a "budget" machine and therefore build quality shouldn't be an issue. For comparison, my last dishwasher was 6 years old when I got rid of it (bosch) and apart from a few scuffs on the door functionally it was as new.
There has been a government initiative to furnish all year 7 children with a free book from a pre-approved selection and this is the book my son chose. I was immediately struck by the artwork and general design which I think strikes just enough of a macabre chord and i think the cover influenced my son's decision. The cover does indeed give you a very good idea of the general tone of the book, which I would describe as very dark. A young boy goes visiting his strange and reclusive uncle who lives in an eerie house in the middle of some seriously spooky woods. Whilst there the boy is regaled with stories, each one a little more macabre than the last. I don't want to give too much away as I think it spoils the read if you have too much fore-knowledge, but it was reminiscent of some of the "Gruesome tales for gruesome kids" stories in which horrid children come to sticky ends. It also reminds me in some ways of Roald Dahl's writing. The use of language is impressive, and there's a great variation in the vocabulary with some pretty challenging words for younger readers. All in all an excellent read for adults and older kids alike.
I absolutely loved this book, as far as I'm concerned it's an instant classic. When I was reading I was completely transported into the story. Very briefly, as well as being a ghost story it is also a story about loss and class division, duty and sacrifice. It is the tale of a bygone era. The descriptions of the house itself and it's decreptitude were so well written it was almost tangible, I felt like I knew every room. The book was written in an old fashioned way, every character felt real. There was nothing contrived, everybody behaved in a way that was utterly believable and true to their character. For me it was reminiscent of Downton abbey, not because there was much similarity in the story, but because it was so well realised and a perfect evocation of the era in which it was set. I'd be very surprised if the tv and film rights to this haven't been snapped up!
There's been a lot written about this game so I'm not going to give a detailed review about the game and gameplay, just my experience of it. I'll start by saying that I'm not a great gamer. Apparently I lack the necessary reflexes and co-ordination, but I do provide entertainment for my teenage son who thinks it's hilarious to sit and mock me. That said, I have managed to complete a few games (heavenly sword, Among thieves) and this type of adventure/fantasy game appeals to me. Darksiders looks absolutely fantastic and by turns I love it and loathe it! I am on the easiest setting but I still find it extremely difficult sometimes. It isn't always apparent what you are meant to be doing, and not being a seasoned gamer I'm not that quick on the uptake. For example in one section I was in I had to throw sticky bombs at the monster and then ignite them to kill him (easier said than done), so having learnt that, I tried it on the next monster that looked the same but all I had to do was hit him with my sword. Confusing. I have to warn you that when you come across the boss called Tiamat you will be at the point of throwing the game through the window in frustration. She will not die. After spending at least 9 hours trying to kill her I pleaded with my son to help and he did the deed. For all my whingeing and moaning I am really enjoying the game. As I mentioned it is fantastically animated and it is very varied. There are lots of different challenges and things you can buy to help you in your quest. I imagine it is also quite challenging for the seasoned gamers among you on a higher difficulty level. Even on easy-peasy I'll still be with it for the forseeable future.
I bought my son one of these for christmas on the strength of the reviews and also because he was insisting on windows xp instead of windows 7 which narrowed the field a bit. We bought it at the end of October because PC world were doing a trade-in discount for old laptaps at the time, but as mentioned it was a Christmas present so wasn't used until Christmas day. Within five days my son started complaining of connectivity problems and it got so bad he could only use it when he was sat right next to the router. I should explain that we use mobile broadband as it's the quickest in our area. So we looked at our receipt and found that PC world would take the netbook back within 28 days from purchase, which of course was no good as we bought the netbook at the end of October. We decided to ring the helpline, reasoning that if we explained the circumstances they might make an exception. They wouldn't. We were given the number for Samsung who insisted that we follow their process for a software update. My husband told them we'd already done this but they insisted we do it again. When it was established that it was more likely to be a hardware problem they said they would either send a courier or a jiffy bag for us to send the netbook for repair. We weren't happy with this arrangement and decided to educate ourselves further on our consumer rights. Long story short we took the netbook back to PC world and spoke to the manager and quietly but firmly told him we weren't prepared to accept a repair on a few days old netbook, and having quoted some of the consumer laws we had educated ourselves with we were immediately offered a new or alternative netbook. Result! If you bought your netbook within the last six months take it back to the store. It is their responsibility to prove that the fault wasn't there when they sold it to you. So don't let them fob you off.
I recently sold my Bose sounddock because it wouldn't charge my new ipod touch. I looked at lots of speaker docks and this one really stood out with wall to wall rave reviews. At 69.99 it seemed like amazing value too. The dock arrived within a couple of days of ordering and I was pretty keen to hear what everyone had been raving about. I won't be going into all the technical detail etc.. as you can get all that from the product details and does most of that detail really help anyway? First impressions out of the box were good. It looks well built and more expensive than it is. But now. The acid test. What does it sound like? Answer? Much as it pains me to say it, pretty disappointing. I read reports about it filling the room with a rich full sound ( I was expecting an Albert Hall type experience) and it just doesn't. There isn't much of a stereo effect and there is no richness of tone or depth to the sound. Much has been made of the bass boost function which I tried, but frankly it just made the bass sound more rattly. Plus this is a bit gimicky, if the bass was rich enough this would be unnecessary. Another gripe is the fact that it just doesn't go loud enough (I know, I know I sound like a teenager). I like my music loud, well at least loud enough to drown out my singing! But it's not just about volume, it's hard for me to explain, but I need to feel the bass in my ribs not just my ears. Loud music through a poor music system is just plain annoying. I suppose the real crux of the problem is this, I had a bose system before and frankly there was absolutely no comparison. Before you say it, yes,I appreciate that there is a big price difference between the two but having owned the bose I just couldn't live with the reduced sound quality. The advice I would give anybody when shopping for something like this, if at all possible, go to a shop and do your own sound comparison. No amount of written reviews can describe a sound to you. By the way, I sent this back and bought another Bose!
TEN PENCE! how on earth do they manage to sell this for that little? As well as being the bargain of the century it is actually very pleasant with a light pleasing fragrance and nice consistency. I mention the consistency as I bought a comparable product from Morrison's and it was really "gloopy" and hard to lather. It just sort of fell off you in lumps onto the shower tray. But no such problems with this. I also find that it makes an excellent hand wash. The packaging could put some people off but to be honest I think that may be the idea. My solution is to dispense it into a more pleasing container. Some hand washes can be very harsh on the skin but I've been using this for a good while now and I haven't had any skin irritation or redness. These type of budget products are very under-rated they are always hidden away on the bottom shelf like some dirty little secret but I can honestly say that in this case you really don't need to pay premium prices, because there's nothing at all wrong with this.
I booked this hotel for my last holiday primarily for the holiday parking facilities, but after reading some of the reviews was a little worried to say the least. I have to say it wasn't that bad at all. Firstly, let me say that I thought it was exceptionally good value as it cost me around £56 for a family room, coach transfers and parking for two weeks. You'd be hard pressed to find parking alone for that. I found the hotel very easily and the driveway is impressive but when you get to the entrance there are signs everywhere saying you can't park there to unload and frankly this is ridiculous and unworkable. So of course I did unload our suitcases there and left my children with the cases in reception while I parked the car. On the way up the drive I notice that the car park looked woryingly full and this did in fact prove to be the case. I drove round the car parks 3 times to no avail and eventually spotted that there was another car park to the left of the hotel which I hadn't noticed and I managed to get a spot there. The car parks in general were of poor quality with lots of pot holes and there was broken glass where I parked my car which concerned me a little. When I eventually got back to reception (about 25 minutes later) we had quite a long wait to check in. The reception staff were polite and helpful but did seem a little disorganised having to go to the back for change etc and the check-in procedure did seem overlong. After another twenty minutes or so we got our keys and went to our room. The room was a little tired, but was clean and more than adequate for our needs. Hotel airports on the whole do tend to be quite noisy but this one wasn't too bad and we did get a decent nights sleep. We breakfasted at the hotel the next morning which was an extra £5.95 each which wasn't extortionate. There was a fair choice of food not the best I've had but by no means the worst. The coach transfer to the airport was punctual and we received a timetable and instructions on where to wait when we returned from our holidays and we didn't experience any problems with this. In conclusion I think for the price it is very good. Fair enough there are a few niggles but lets face it, if your needs are similar to mine it's only one night and used this way the hotel offers excellent value for money and leaves you with more lolly for you hols!
I really liked it. I couldn't quite put my finger on what it tasted like and thought it had a slight ginger-like flavour to it but when I looked at the ingredients it was probably the koka bean extract and caramel I could taste. It doesn't have the sickly sweetness of most soft drinks, and for me didn't seem quite so acidic (I get terrible heartburn with most soft drinks). I also liked the fact that it wasn't super fizzy, it just has slight carbonation to give it some life. It makes an excellent mixer for spirits, giving an extra depth of flavour that you don't get with ordinary coke. The thing I didn't like was the fact that they seem to be marketing it under the "healthy, natural" banner which I think is a little disingenuous. There may be no artificial sweeteners, colours, flavours or preservatives which is always a good thing, but it plays down the fact that it contains lots and lots of real sugar with one 250ml can (a standard soft drinks can is 330ml) containing 27% of your recommended sugar intake for the day!
I am not a vegetarian and neither is anyone in our family but I like to try new things and these were a happy surprise. I served these up without actually telling anybody what they were just to see if they would notice. Guess what, they didn't even realise it wasn't chicken. The texture is very meatlike and they have a nice batter like coating. They are easy to cook just pop in the oven for around 18 minutes till they are golden brown and that's it. Another reason I liked these was even though I eat meat I am concerned about animal welfare so make a concerted effort to only buy free range chicken. I can't say I've ever seen chicken nuggets from free range hens so these are a good alternative. I did try the quorn chicken style pieces, thinking they would be as good but sadly they had a very artificial taste to them
I thought I'd give these a try as they are around half the price of the Mc Cains equivalent. They come in a 600g bag which is smaller than the mccains but I think it still represents good value. These are a seasoned curly potato fry and make a particularly nice accompaniment to southern fried chicken or chicken nuggets. They cook in a 200 degree oven for approximately 25 minutes and have to be cooked in a single layer so they cook evenly. Even so it is advisable to change them around on the tray every 5 minutes or so as they burn very easily and go hard. They have quite a spicy taste similar to a cajun type seasoning but it isn't overpowering and it can be cooled with a dash of mayonnaise. As a supermarket brand alternative these are a good choice, you aren't compromising on taste and for around £1 they are a good freezer staple for those days when you just need something quick. I must add though that the quality of these can be hit and miss and the last couple of times I got them they were extremely bitty and greasy. Perhaps this was a little manufacturing glitch on their part so I won't give up on them just yet!
Hubby and I decided we needed a night out this week so decided to do an "orange wednesday". I quite fancied "A prophet" but hubby refused point blank to sit through two and a half hours of subtitles so we settled on "It's complicated". Is it just me or do some films really overdo the idealisation of the characters lifestyles? Not only has Meryl Streep got the most super lovey dovey children (who she has raised to perfection) but she is also a fantastically successful businesswoman and super talented cook. She also lives in a picture postcard house which looks like it could sleep 12 and has amazing supportive friends. Basically the story is as follows. After being divorced for ten years Meryl Streeps character ends up sleeping with her ex. She has spent a long time getting her life back on track and now she is confused. Can she make a go of it the second time round with her ex? He certainly seems to think so. Apart from the fact that he has remarried things are further complicated when she becomes romantically involved with the architect she has commissioned to build her an extension (cos she absolutely needed that extension what wih her living all alone in that teensy little house). To be fair the film isn't awful and there are a couple of laugh out loud bits but on the whole it's just a bit too good to be true. I know this is a feel good movie but lets have some semblance of reality please.
There's already an excellent review written about the visa waiver system for entering the U.S which is very comprehensive and tells you everything you need to know about the form. I just feel the need, after going online to fill mine in today to reiterate to everyone that this is an entirely FREE procedure. I was absolutely appalled that when I used Google to search for this facility, that all of the most prominently featured ones were in fact agencies that charge a fee for this service. Worse still a few of them looked very official and I worry that people will be paying for this because they are ill informed. One of the sites I looked at was charging a staggering £25 per person! I then looked at the website I booked my flights on and they too were charging for this "service". It seems that most agents have jumped on this very lucrative bandwagon. The webistes are very reassuring promising an express service and very secure payment systems. But please, please don't fall for it. In reality the form takes 5 minutes to fill in, you get your permission almost instantly (with an option to print it off) and it is of course completely 100% free. It really pains me that we always have to be vigilant about things like this, in our so called "transparent" society. As far as I'm concerned this way of doing business is almost criminal and shouldn't be allowed. Anyway, glad to have got that off my chest. I'll go put the world to rights elsewhere now!
I thought it might be useful to write a review aimed at coaster phobes (I can't be the only one). I will do this review in 2 parts otherwise you might lose the will to live whilst reading it. A lot of reviews tend to concentrate on the big rides, but I'm going to tell you what I do when I'm at the parks. Firstly, out of all of the parks Universal is probably the best for you if you hate coasters as coasters are not the main attraction here. The other thing I need to mention is that though I am a coaster phobe I am fine with spinning things and bumpy attractions so bear this in mind. So here we go with what you can do! Shrek 4d- This is a what is called a 4d theatre experience. So as well as a 3d film you also have a physical experience too. For example you get a little bit wet when one of the characters in the film sneezes. Good family fun that only the very young or nervous might not enjoy. Men in black- This involves shooting aliens from a moving car which spins around quite regularly. Theres also a competitive edge as your scores are shown at the end along with the usual ride photo. Twister- This attraction is a film tie in with a short film about the making of the film to start, you then go into a stage set which reproduces what a tornado feels like. I will warn you though my 8 year old son was absolutely terrified which really surprised me as he rides coasters no problem. The simpsons- This is what used to be Back to the future revamped. I haven't actually been on this yet. I assume it is very much the same but with the simpsons. It is a simulator type ride on a grand scale and is very effective. It is also extremely bumpy, my husband complained he banged his shoulder. I was fine and enjoyed it. Jimmy Neutron blaster- This is themed around the kids cartoon and and basically it's another simulator type ride where your seats move about a fair bit. Fine for all the family. Jaws- One of the oldest attractions in the park but still well worth a look. This may be a bit too intense for younger visitors as it involves loud sound effects, smoke and fire and a large shark attacking your boat! Great fun. Disaster- Excuse me if I've got the name wrong on this but basically you get onto a subway train and there's an earthquake. Both times I've tried this ride it has broken down so I can't recommend it. Kids back from school now so part two later on when I can hear myself think!
Nurse Jackie is the new offering from Showtime productions, who also brought us Dexter. It is currently showing on BBC2 on a Monday night at 10 o'clock. It is billed as a comedy and stars Edie Falco who you may know better as Tony Soprano's wife Carmella. Nurse Jackie has a few problems. She is married, but is also having an affair with the pharmacist at the hospital where she works. The main reason for this as far as I can see, is that she needs him to supply her with the prescription drugs she is addicted to. Money is tight (she is the main bread winner) and her young daughter has worsening anxiety problems. So far, none of this sounds particularly funny. But you know what? some of it really is. Some of the funniest moments have involved her boss, a woman who used to be a nurse but seems to have been to a few too many management seminars and has forgotten what empathy is. So far she has inadvertantly drunk a laced cup of coffee, which turned her into a grinning loon, and more recently she accidently tazered herself in a lift! Jackie is a very complex character. She is a total mess in her personal life and professionally she takes a lot of risks. For instance in one of the episodes a man is brought to the hospital with his ear cut off. It transpires the man has viciously attacked a prostitute with a knife and she has cut his ear off in self defence. The man is completely obnoxious and will not face prosecution as he is a diplomat, so Jackie exacts her own kind of justice and flushes his ear down the toilet! Like I say, she can be really bad but almost in a good way and most of what she does wrong is done with the best of intentions. I'm enjoying the show very much and the characters are developing nicely. The one thing I hate about it is the title sequence. It reminds me a lot of Dexter's opening and I was no big fan of that one either. For all you trivia nerdies out there there is also another link with the Sopranos. Steve Buscemi who starred as Tony's cousin directs some of the first series episodes. In the words of Michael Caine, "not a lot of people know that".