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    • Warburtons Crumpets / Snacks / 111 Readings / 110 Ratings
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      08.03.2009 14:30
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      Teatime, breakfast time or anytime, a delicious treat.

      Crumpets are one of the foods that are quintessentially British, and I think there must be some Americans that believe the country stops between 3 and 4 in the afternoon, and we all have tea and crumpets. At our house, we do eat crumpets regularly, but not for tea, we're more likely to have them for breakfast, and when you look at the packet of Warburton's crumpets, there is a picture of half a crumpet, as if it is coming up over the horizon, with a halo of sun rays and the words Good Morning in a buttery yellow colour. It also says that they are "a delicious TOASTED way to start the day", so we must not be the only people that eat them that way.

      When I was a child in South Yorkshire, we called them pikelets, but most people know these small round bakery products as crumpets.

      Warburton's crumpets usually come in a pack of six, and they are surrounded by a cardboard cover, which is then encased in a cellophane wrapper. The cardboard doesn't surround the whole pack so you can see part of the crumpets through the cellophane.

      Each crumpet is about 3 inches in diameter and about half to threequarters of an inch in depth. The top is covered in holes, as if they are made from a batter which has bubbled whilst it was being cooked, and the holes go through the crumpet down to it's solid crispy base.

      The pack has the Warburtons logo, which says they have been family bakers since 1876, and also has a rosette in the top right hand corner which says they are Britain's favourite.

      On the base of the packet is the nutritional information, the storage instructions which tells you to store them in a cool dry place, ideally not refrigerated. They can be frozen, and it recommends that if you are going to freeze them to do it on the day of purchase. Once the pack is open they should be used within 2 days. Ther is also a list of ingredients, allergy advice and a customer care number. They have a website at www.warburtons.co.uk. They also give a serving suggestion saying "Place under a preheated medium/hot grill for 3-4 minutes, turning once until crisp on both sides. Simply serve with butter, your favourite jam or preserve or drizzled with honey."

      There are words of wisdom from Jonathan Warburton too. He says "Two reasons to eat Warburton's crumpets- firstly toasted and buttered they are delicious, and secondly there's less than 1% fat in each - need I say more"
      This would be all very well Jonathan, if we could eat them without butter, but when the butter has melted and dripped into the holes on the crumpet, I dread to think how much fat they contain then! Perhaps if they could be eaten with just a light spread of jam, that might be alright, but to me it's the butter than makes the crumpet so enjoyable, so encouraging me to eat them because they have less than 1% fat just doesn't cut it with me!

      And they are delicious, there is not doubt about that. When grilled to a crisp light golden brown, and with a light spread of butter (no more is necessary as it drips through the crumpet and ends up on the plate beneath, trust me I've tried that!) either with or without the jam of your choice, they are a very tasty treat. Your teeth slide through them in a satisfying way, they are light and fluffy, and yet substantial, so that although smaller than a slice of toast, they are just as filling. The taste is unique, neither like bread, or cake, but they are a pleasant alternative to either toast or cereal for your breakfast time meal.

      (with apologies to Rupert Brooke for the title)

      Nutritional information per crumpet
      Energy 100kcal
      Protein 3.2g
      Carbohydrate 20.9g
      Fat 0.4g
      Salt 1.0g

      Allergy Advice
      Contains gluten
      Produced in a bakery which used milk soya and egg

      Pack of six at Tesco 74p

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      • More +
        06.03.2009 13:41
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        Fantasy that you wish were reality

        I recently read a very good review on a book, and it sounded like the kind of story I would enjoy, so I decided to spend some of my vouchers on it, and I wasn't disappointed. Temeraire by Naomi Novik, is one of the most charming books I have read in a long time.

        The Author.

        Naomi Novik was born in New York in 1973, and says she was raised on Polish fairy tales and Tolkein. She studied English literature at Brown University and did Graduate work in computer science at Columbia University. She has also worked in design and development computer games. She won many awards for Temeraire, also known as His Majesty's Dragon, which was her first novel. More information about her can be found at her website. www.temeraire.org/index.cgi

        The background

        The novel is set during the Napoleonic era, and is a historical fantasy. Genuine historical characters such as Napoleon and Nelson are mentioned, but the world is very different from our own, in that they have intelligent speaking dragons, as an airborne fighting corps. There are many species of dragons, with many different abilities, and they are used in combat with the enemy. Dragons are known and prized around the world but the aviators which are their handlers, are not so well respected amongst the other services. The handlers are introduced to the Dragons as they hatch, and stay with them for the rest of their lives, sacrificing all hope of a 'normal' family life.

        The story

        Captain William Laurence ran away to sea when he was a boy, and has worked his way through the ranks, to make Captain of the ship Reliant. Our story opens when Captain Lawrence has just taken a French ship in battle, and is accepting the surrender of the French Captain. Lawrence was surprised that the French ship outgunned and much smaller than the English ship fought so fiercely to keep from being captured, but all become cleared when the crew find a large dragon egg being transported in the hold. This is a rare prize indeed, and the crew know they must care for the creature to the best of their ability, as the aerial corps is in dire need of new dragons.

        They recognise that the dragon is ready to hatch, and so crew draw lots, as to who should be presented to the hatchling, as his handler, but when the momentous hatching occurs, the dragon himself has other ideas, and chooses Laurence, and will have nothing to do with anyone else. Captain Laurence recognises his duty, and hands his ship over to the next in command, and takes on the position of the dragon's handler. Laurence feels the life he had planned out, with a young lady back home with whom he had an 'understanding' has slipped away from him, and he knows that his father will disapprove even more than he did about his seafaring career. Will Laurence come to terms with the life changing association with Temeraire? Just what type of dragon is this unusual creature? The story unfolds, as the pair get to know each other, and earn about their duty to each other, and to their country.

        My thoughts
        I loved this book, and found it easy to read, and the characters were very believable. Laurence is pushed into a situation not of his making, and it takes him a while to come to terms with it, but although he isn't happy at first, the development of his
        relationship with the young dragon is a journey which is delightful to read. Temeraire is just charming, and is portrayed with the innocence of youth and yet with an outstanding intelligence and a thirst for knowledge. He too grows and develops as a character throughout the book, as his understanding grows.

        I also loved the amount of detail in the book, the many types of dragons that the author mentions, describing their appearance and their abilities. At the end of the book, there are extracts from various works on dragons, which I thought was a lovely touch, making the story all the more believable.

        The only aspect which I found difficult to come to terms with was that anyone, of whichever nation would want these magnificent creatures to fight, so that they could get injured, and sometimes even die in battle, although that might have something to do with the fact that I am a pacifist at heart, and hate the thought of war in any form.

        I enjoyed the way the author wove her fantasy around historical characters and facts, and again this added to the credibility of the book. I also enjoyed the interesting twist towards the end, which paves the way for further stories about this delightful dragon. There are more books in the series, and so I shall be looking forward to spending more of my dooyoo vouchers, to get these too.

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          27.02.2009 17:17
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          Would make a lovely small gift or stocking filler

          I like a bargain, and I like having nice smellies to use in the bathroom, so when I came across this Royal Jelly Bath and body trio in Boots at half the normal price, I thought I would give it a go.

          Royal Jelly is substance that through the ages has been thought to have magical properties, and has been used for all sorts of health problems, including skin problems. Some people even believe it to be good for wrinkles. What Royal jelly is, according to Wikipedia, is a honey bee secretion that is used in the nutrition of the larvae. Contrary to popular opinion, it is used for all the larvae, not just the queens, but when new queens are needed they are fed upon only royal jelly in large quantities, and so this triggers the development of the queen. Because only small amounts of royal jelly are made by the hive it is viewed as a rare product.

          The product to be reviewed is called Royal Jelly Bath Trio, but I was unable to find out how much Royal jelly is in the product. It is in there together with honey, but I couldn't find any mention of amounts.

          The boxed set contains Moisturising Crème Bath, Body Lotion, and Body Wash, and is packaged with a cream coloured scrunchy bathing puff. The box is a rich dark brown colour, with a honeycomb design all over it, and a clear section at the front so that you can see the bottles inside. The rear of the package gives you the ingredients of the products, in several languages.

          The three bottles are attached to a plastic base which holds them in position in the box, and this was quite difficult to remove. There was some kind of sticky pad on the base of each bottle holding them in place into the rigid plastic holder, and this was so effective it made if very difficult to get the three 100 ml bottles out of the packaging. Once you've fought with it, and won though, you have three clear plastic bottles each with a dark brown screw cap, and a dark brown label, with gold writing, proclaiming that these are Boots Royal Jelly, and telling you what the product is.

          Moisturising Crème Bath

          This is a thick and creamy liquid, a sort of peachy orange colour, with a pearlised finish. The rear of the bottle tells you that "This Luxurious crème bath is rich in ingredients beneficial to the skin. Contains natural Royal Jelly and honey which are well known for their hydrating and soothing properties."

          Instructions for use

          "Simply pour under warm running water and step into a world of luxury. With added moisturisers, to help reduce the drying effects of bathing, as well as gently cleansing the skin."

          My thoughts.

          When I poured the product into the bath, there was a sweet pleasing, honey fragrance, with a hint of amber, and it dispersed quickly, and easily, making plenty of bubbles. The fragrance filled the whole bathroom, and was very soothing. It's sweet but not cloying, and nothing too overpowering, just a pleasant gentle fragrance. The water felt silky as I stepped into it, and the bubbles were plentiful. I enjoyed lying in the warm water with the fragrance surrounding me. I used the bath puff to whisk the bubbles over my skin, and really enjoyed my bathing experience. When I dried my skin, it felt fairly soft, but not so soft that I didn't feel I needed to use the body lotion.

          Body Lotion

          This is a very pale creamy liquid, which has a similar fragrance to the crème bath, so that it would compliment it, but lishgtly different. It reminded me a little of the calamine lotion we used to put on chicken pox to stop you from itching when I was a child, both in scent and in colour, but it wasn't unpleasant, it is sweet and light. The rear of the bottle tells us "This lightly textured nourishing body lotion helps to maintain the moisture balance of your skin. Contains matural Royal jelly and honey which are well known for their hydrating and soothing properties.

          Instructions for use

          "Massage gently onto your skin to leave your body feeling smooth and soft."

          My thoughts

          The liquid flowed easily out of the bottle, always a plus to me, especially when you get to the end of the bottle, I hate not being able to get the last drops out because the product is too thick! It smoothed over the skin easily and lightly, without feeling greasy, and was easily absorbed into the skin. It soon dried, so that it didn't rub off onto clothing when you wanted to get dressed. My skin felt soft and smooth, and lightly fragranced, not overpoweringly so.

          Body Wash

          The clear plastic bottle contains a thick gloopy clear liquid, a slightly peachy gold. The rear of the bottle tells us "This luxurious bodywash is rich in ingredients beneficial to the skin. Contains natural Royal Jelly and honey which are well known for their hydrating and soothing properties"

          Instructions for use

          "Apply to moist skin, and massage gently to create a rich creamy lather. Rinse off with warm water."

          My thoughts

          I had to squeeze the bottle slightly to get the thick liquid out of the bottle. Two squeezes onto the body puff was plenty to wash my body in the shower, and using the body puff made plenty of lather, which was rich and with the same sweet amber, honey fragrance as the crème bath. It lathered up well, and left me feeling clean and fresh, and sweetly fragranced. When I dried my skin, it felt soft, but I still felt that I needed to use the body lotion, for it to be properly moisturized.

          Conclusions.

          I have really enjoyed using these products, and I think they would make a very nice filler sort of gift for someone, especially if you can pick up the set, as I did for half price. At the moment at Boots online, it is £5.87. which still isn't overly expensive for the three items. Admittedly, the bottles are all only 100mls, but if you're like me, and like to try different things in your bath and shower, then these sizes are fine. It's especially good value if you can find it in your local store at half price.

          The products are made in China. It is recommended that you keep the products out of your eyes, and it is also recommended that you keep the bath crème and the body wash out of direct sunlight.

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            26.02.2009 13:44
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            Stock up the freezer whilst it's only £1

            Tesco have introduced some new light choices meals, so I thought I would give them a try, as they were only £1. The first one I tried was Light Choices Minced Beef and Potatoes. This is described as Potatoes with a minced beef and onion sauce served with peas.

            The pack is a regular microwave meal type pack, with a cardboard sleeve over a microwaveable dish which has a film cover. The cover tells you it is Tesco Light choices, minced beef and potatoes, and then clarifies, that it is potatoes with a minced beef and onion sauce served with peas. There is a picture of a heaped plateful of potatoes with minced beef and peas.

            The rear of the packet:
            There is a lot of information on the back of the packet, in very small print. It says that it is Tesco Light Choices, and has a tag line which says 'Big on taste, light on calories sugar or fat.' It also says 'In our light choices range we don't use any hydrogenated fat, artificial colours and flavours. All products meet strict criteria for sugar, saturates, salt and Calories, and are either less than 3% fat or have half the fat of a comparable product.

            It then tells you it is potatoes with a beef sauce and peas and then gives the cooking instructions. (Three and half minutes on full power in an 850 watt oven, or 20-25 minutes in an oven at gas mark5)

            It can be frozen and the pack also gives guidelines for cooking from frozen.

            Ther is a list of ingredients which I won't bore you with here, but just to tell you it has 32% potato, 11% peas and 10% beef and there is also carrot and onion.

            It gives a promise that if you're not satisfied they will refund or replace it, and gives the additional information that it is produced using beef operating to Tesco's livestock standards. Sounds very reassuring doesn't it? It doesn't tell you what those standards are, and if they are the same or better than freedom foods standards. Tesco's livestock standards could be abysmal, we don't know! Anyway...

            My thoughts.

            I was very pleasantly surprised by this, it was tasty, and although there wasn't a great amount it was filling, and made a reasonable meal to eat at work on the late shift. There were reasonable chunks of potato, and the 'sauce' was meaty, with a nice thick rich gravy, plenty of tasty onion, and lovely peas, not over cooked.

            I really enjoyed this meal, it smelt appetising as it was cooking in the microwave, and although I probably could have eaten more, it was filling enough to last me for my shift at work. It certainly wouldn't have been enough for my husband for a meal, but for me it was fine. I would recommend this as a tasty filling hot meal when you haven't got the opportunity to cook your own, and at the special price of £1 I would buy it again. If they raise the price a lot, I would think twice, and I wouldn't recommend it for anyone with a really hearty appetite

            Nutritional infomation per packet:
            Energy 200 kcals
            Protein 15.8g
            Carbohydrate 27.0g
            Fat 3.2g
            Salt equivalent 1.1g

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              20.02.2009 18:46
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              A pleasant way to spend a few hours

              Murder Game Christine Feehan

              Christine Feehan is best known for her Carpathian vampire series of books, but I have also enjoyed her other books, all of which seem to fall into the genre paranormal romance. I'm a sucker for these type of books, so when I found out she had written another in her Ghostwalker series, then I had to spend some of my dooyoo vouchers on it.

              The Author

              Christine Feehan is an American best selling author of several series of books, the Carpathian or 'Dark' Series, the Drake Sisters series, the Leopard series, and the Ghostwalker series. She has written since she was a child, according to her website, often getting into trouble at school for writing when she should have been doing other things. Wikipedia tells us she is married and has eleven children.

              The background

              ***warning this may contain spoilers for the previous books in the series***

              Murder Game is the seventh in the Ghostwalker series, and as well as being paranormal romances, the books are also action thrillers. They centre around the world of an elite band of warriors, the Ghostwalkers, who have all been genetically enhanced to have heightened senses. They all have different abilities, from telepathy, to turning their skin to camouflage, to being able to communicate with animals, and so on. They are stronger and faster, and because of this there are people in authority that want them destroyed. They were created by Doctor Philip Whitney, and through the earlier books in the series, we learn that the Ghostwalkers were not the only ones he experimented upon. He may be a genius, but he had few scruples, buying young girls, from poor backgrounds, to perform his experiments upon, even going so far as to experiment upon his own daughter. We learn that he has engineered mates for each of the Ghostwalkers, planning to mate them, and then experiment upon their offspring. The Ghostwalkers and the girls, all named after flowers, have mostly managed to get away from the influence of Doctor Whitney, but he is still a threat to them, and their future happiness.

              The story

              Murder Game is quite capable of standing alone, although it would help to have read the other books in the series, as this would give you more of the background, and introduce some of the characters that are mentioned in this book.

              The Ghostwalkers are under suspicion, as a series of murders are committed, in what appears to be some kind of macabre game, with two teams of killers. Kadan Montague has been assigned to investigate them, in the hope of clearing the name of the Ghostwalkers. To help with his investigations, he seeks the help of Tansy Meadows, a young girl who has in the past helped police to track down killers, through her psychic ability. When he finds her, out in the wilderness of North America photographing mountain lions, he realises that his life and his mission have just become far more complicated. Tansy is his 'mate', the girl genetically enhanced by Dr Whitney to be the perfect match for him. She has had no training to help her to live with her ability, and to help him in the way he needs, could damage her mind beyond recognition. Will Tansy help? Will Kadan allow the woman who is his mate put herself in danger to exonerate his fellow Ghostwalkers? Will the killers continue to kill, or can these two young people put a stop to their Murder Game? You'll have to read the book to find out.

              My thoughts

              I enjoy Christine Feehan's writing, it's easy to read, normally fast paced, and her characters although larger than life, are believable, and likeable. I found this book a bit slow to get going, when the principal characters had met up, there was a lot of planning, before the actual action got going, but that didn't distract from the book too much for me, and the wait was worth it when things actually started to move. I would have liked a few more twists in the story, as the final section of the book seemed to move all too quickly, so I think a few more setbacks would have enhanced this part of the book for me. There are plenty of sexy scenes, and these are suitably hot and steamy, although I did find myself speed reading through some of them to get to more storyline action. I'll probably enjoy those more when I re-read the book, knowing the outcome will give me the luxury of taking my time over the description, rather than hurrying on because I wanted to know what happened next.

              All in all this was an enjoyable way to pass the time, and I will be looking out for the next in the series, although according to her website it looks as if I'm going to have to wait until 2010!

              Paperback 464 pages
              £5.89 new from Amazon

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              • Bird's Instant Custard / Other Food / 93 Readings / 91 Ratings
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                11.02.2009 22:06
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                useful to have in the store cupboard

                I was a child of the fifties. This was the time just after the war, and during the early fifties, food was still rationed. When rationing was lifted, it was comparatively a time of plenty, and although there wasn't much money about, people ate well, and enjoyed the abundance of food.

                One thing I remember about my childhood, especially in the winter, was pudding, after a meal. Either a steam pudding, or a fruit crumble, or apple pie, all served with piping hot custard. I remember seeing Heinz sponge puddings bubbling away on the stove top, for hours, and then being served with extra golden syrup, and wonderful thick creamy custard. No wonder I have a sweet tooth!

                I never really understood the need for instant custard, as custard powder is not exactly difficult to use, and is almost as instant, but when my husband bought some packets of Birds instant custard, I thought we would give it a go.

                The pack we bought was three 75g packets of single servings, of the low fat variety, not the jar of instant powder seen in the photograph above. On the front of the packet there is the Bird's logo, and Bird's custard in large white lettering on a red, custard yellow, and turquoise background. The regular custard (not low fat) is exactly the same but the bottom of the packet is royal blue, not turquoise so that's an easy way to spot if you have picked up the regular or low fat variety. Across the yellow band is the word 'instant' and at the bottom across the blue is '3 pack', 'smooth and creamy', 'low fat', and 'in the time it takes to boil the kettle!'

                On the reverse of the pack it says that birds is the original custard brand, established in 1837 and loved by generations ever since. Bird's custard is made and served in millions of homes where the proper custard is at the heart of a good pud.

                The instructions are on there. It says that each sachet makes three servings, and it recommends emptying one sachet into a large measuring jug. Pour on boiling water up to three quarters of a pint, and it mentions that the water must be boiling for the custard to thicken. It then tells you to stir briskly with a fork until smooth and creamy, ensuring that all the powder at the bottom is mixed in.

                The packet also gives some handy hints, telling you that if you prefer your custard to be less thick then top up with boiling water. For best results leave to stand for 1 minute before serving. If the custard does not thicken place in a saucepan and heat on the hob to boiling whilst stirring.
                The packet also gives the ingredients and the nutritional information, guideline daily amounts, and the careline number.

                My thoughts.

                As I said I never had any t rouble making regular custard with custard powder and hot milk, but after using this I can see the convenience of having a packet or two in the cupboard for the occasions when you might be short on milk, or short on time. It doesn't take that much longer to make regular custard than instant, but it does save a few minutes, and if you are that rushed it could be a valuable few minutes.

                I find that the best way to make the custard is to pour just a little of the boiling water onto the powder in the jug, and then mix until it is a smooth paste, and then add the rest of the boiling water. I find it seems to mix up better that way.

                As for taste, it tastes like custard, and although it probably isn't as creamy as regular custard made with milk, the difference isn't that noticeable. Perhaps the only criticism I would have is that the instant custard is a little bit too yellow, so that it looks a little bit synthetic, but it isn't off-putting.
                I have since tried both the regular instant custard and the low-fat version, and to be honest I can't tell much difference in them myself, so if you're looking to eat lower fat foods, then it would be no hardship to use the low fat version.

                I now keep this in my cupboard as a regular stand by, and I find if we are wanting a quick pudding, I have no qualms about using it. It saves on milk, and a few minutes time, and I would recommend it as a stop gap to use if you're short of milk, or short of minutes!

                Nutritional Information per portion for the low fat instant custard
                Energy 102kcal
                Protein 1.1g
                Carbohydrate 19.7g
                Fat 2.1g
                Salt equivalent 0.2g

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                  10.02.2009 23:15
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                  Don't be fooled into thinking they are a much heealthier option

                  I'm not particularly good at healthy eating, I like chocolate, and all sorts of things that I know are bad for me really. I try to get around it by keeping to everything in moderation, but if I see something that claims to be a healthier alternative to the things I love, I'll give it a try.

                  I was in the local coop shop this morning and I spotted packets of Sunbites, and I seemed to remember seeing an advert on the television that told me they were a healthier option for crisps, so I thought I would give them a try.

                  The packet is a normal crisp packet size but it gives you the impression of wholesomeness with a picture of a blue sky and and a green field,with a picture of the crisps and a spoonful of what I suppose is sour cream, and a few peppercorns. Acorss the top is a banner advertising a competition, saying that one in 5 bags wins a prize (my packet said sorry no win)

                  Below the banner is Sunbites, with the Walkers logo, and beneath that it says wholegrain snacks, and tells us they are "bursting with the goodness of wholegrains" they are sour cream and cracked black pepper flavour, and then it tells us that they have more than a third of the suggested daily abmount of wholegrains, and that they are a good sosurce of fibre.

                  The rear of the packet has more information about the competition, telling you about the prizes that are to be won, and giving the terms and conditions, there is the nutritional information and a chart giving guideline daily amounts. The best before date is there and ingredients.

                  It also gives the information that they may contain traces of barley due to farming practices. they are suitable for vegetarians

                  My thoughts

                  When you open the bag there is a mild scent, nothing too strong, just a little bit peppery. The crisps are light and rectangular, with a corrugated surface, and have a nice crunch when you bite them, just as satisfying as crisps. The taste is lovely, you get a creamy cheesy taste, which must be the sour cream, with just a hint of pepper, but nothing too strong, it isn't too hot and peppery, as some crisps I've tasted. There is no unpleasant aftertaste.

                  You can't particularly taste the wholegrains, in fact it's difficult to tell the difference between these and flavoured potato crisps, although they have no potato in them. They are made of whole corn, whole wheat, and whole oat flour. there is also rice flour, and the flavourings, and they are cooked with sunflower oil.

                  I really enjoyed this snack, they are tasty, but not overpowering, and they don't leave too much of a residue upon your fingers (I hate that!). I'm not sure they are that much healthier than a normal bag of crisps though, because although they contain whole grains, they have 131 calories, and 6.1g of fat. Admittedly, it doesn't anywhere on the packet say that they are a healthier option, just says that they are bursting with the goodness of wholegrain, so that and the sunny green meadow on the front of the packet are designed to give you that impression. That worries me a little, because it does seem as if Walkers are trying to persuade people to eat these as a healthy option, when they aren't really. Of course wholegrain is healthier than processed grain, but nothing else about these is any better for you than a bag of normal crisps.

                  Having said that, I really enjoyed them, and would buy them again, but not as a healthy option, just because like ordinary crisps, I enjoy them.

                  Nuritional information per packet:

                  Energy 131kcals
                  Protein 2.1g
                  Carbohydrate 16.9g
                  Fat 6.1g
                  Fibre 1.8g
                  Salt equivalent 0.4g

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                    08.02.2009 00:50
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                    a few of my favourites

                    Since joining dooyoo, I find I spend most of my time here, so I'm not going to include dooyoo in my top ten. Most of us who are here regularly, know it's a great website, so the websites I'm going to mention are other than dooyoo.

                    In no particular order:

                    I can has cheezburger: I love this site, it cheers me up and makes me smile. I love cats, well all animals, but especially cats, so to see all the great photos, and to read the brilliantly clever captions that are put on the photos, is great therapy for me, if I'm feeling a bit down

                    Gmail: I think google mail is the best web based email site ever, and so I use this as my default email. I've never had any problems with it, I love the way the mail is arranged in conversations. The spam filter is excellent, too, so what more could you want?

                    Google: my home page, THE search engine as far as I'm concerned, and it always seems to find me what I'm looking for, so I have no need for any other. I also find google image search interesting, and google maps, especially looking at the satellite photo maps. Looking at your house, is great fun. My car is on the satellite photo of the car park where I work!

                    Facebook: It's a fun site, even for someone of my age, and I'm nosy enough to like to read what my work colleagues are up to in their spare time. I get a bit annoyed with all the applications, but its fun trying to find old friends on there, although I'm not interested in having friends just for the sake of numbers. Having said that if someone requests me to be their friend, its highly unlikely I'll turn them down.

                    Paint Shop Stop: I enjoy art work, and have used the programme Paint Shop pro for several years now, and this forum taught me everything I know about the programme. It's fun and friendly, and a great community, willing to help anyone who has problems with the programme. They set challenges, and give lessons, you can show off your art work there, and they will give you all the encouragement you need.

                    PFDLives: Another art forum, which has grown up from the MSN group "Poser for dummies" Poser is a 3D art programme which is very complicated, and the group has helped me no end with learning the basics of the programme so that I can use it to make some art work. The forum again is a place where they are very helpful, and you can show off your work, to get encouragement and constructive criticism.

                    Amazon: I love books, and bought them from Amazon even before I joined dooyoo. I loved the reviews on there which helped me to choose the books I wanted to read, (before I found out about dooyoo) and also the lists that people compile, which gave me ideas for authors in a similar genre to books I knew and loved. I also like the recommendations page, and spend a lot of time on there agreeing and disagreeing with things they have recommended. I've found some enjoyable reading from following their recommendations.

                    IMDB: The Internet Movie Database. I love movies too, so this site is a godsend. it gives you all the information you could possibly want about movies, tv shows, actors and actresses. That has reviews too, so together with the reviews here, that can help you decide whether you want to see a movie or not.

                    Wikipedia: if you need information, this is the first place to look. Its a great site, with an incredible amount of information. I have heard people say that it isn't 100% accurate, but can anything ever be that accurate?

                    You Tube: Is there anything that isn't on there? Music videos, funny videos of cats, tv and movie clips, tutorials, adverts, and lots more. You can get lost on there easily, moving from one clip to the next, for hours. Great fun if you're bored.

                    Just a few of the websites I visit regularly, but of course most of my time is spent here these days, I can't help it, I'm addicted!

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                      07.02.2009 16:52
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                      An uplifting continuation of the Pern saga

                      When you read Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series, she recommends Dragonsong to be the third one you read. It's timeline actually coincides with the second book, Dragonquest, so the events you read about are taking place simultaneously with what you have already read in Dragonquest. This can be read as a standalone novel, but Anne herself recommends reading them in this sequence.

                      ***Please note, this review may contain spoilers for the previous books in the sequence***


                      The Author
                      Anne McCaffrey was born in 1926 in Cambridge Massachusetts. She graduated from Radcliffe College, majoring in Slavonic Languages and Literatures. She tried various careers, including acting, before turning her attention to writing, and her first novel was published in 1967. She now lives in County Wicklow in Ireland.

                      Although the Dragonriders of Pern is often placed in the fantasy genre, Anne herself is adamant that it is science fiction. She says of herself "My hair is silver, my eyes are green and I freckle: the rest is subject to change without notice"

                      The background

                      Humankind have moved out into the far reaches of the galaxy, and a colony was built upon the planet of Pern. Just when things were beginning to get settled, a strange planet came close to Pern with its unusual elliptical orbit. This planet had a lifeform which sought to bridge the gap between the planets finding its way to the more hospitable Pern, dropping from the skies as silver threads, eating its way through anything organic and thus almost destroying the newly formed colony. The scientists that are left work to find a solution, and using their skills, they genetically engineer an indigenous life form to fight the insidious threads. These come to be known as dragons, named after the mythic beasts of earth, and their riders are respected and feted as they fight the threat to the colony. The riders and their beasts have a telepathic relationship, and if a rider dies, his dragon cannot survive without him. An almost medieval society grows over the centuries, as technology and information is lost over time, in the fight for survival. When the orbit of the strange planet swings it out of reach of Pern for several centuries, the respect for the dragon riders begins to wane, as do the numbers of the dragons and their riders. When thread begins to fall again there are too few dragons and dragonriders to protect the planet, and the outlook for the colony looks bleak. Lessa, The Weyrwoman of Benden Weyr, takes a dramatic journey into the past when thread has stopped falling, and brings the dragonriders and their dragons forward to their time, thus saving the colony. During the next seven years, not everything has gone to plan, as the 'Oldtimers' find things have changed too much for their liking.

                      The story

                      This is the story of Menolly, a young woman from the Ista Sea hold, who has an incredible ability with and a love of music. In Pernese society, each Hold has its Harper who is responsible for teaching the children, and in charge of all music. Menolly has been helping their old Harper with this task, and according to her siblings, therefore shirking her responsibilities for other chores, but when Petiron dies, and a new Harper is to arrive, she is told in no uncertain terms that she must keep quiet about her musical ability, as it is not the done thing for a girl to be doing the Harper's job.

                      Menolly is miserable, doing mundane chores such as gutting fish, and when she injures her hand, her mother, rather than doing all she can to make it heal properly, is somewhat relieved that the injury will put paid to Menolly's musical ideas.

                      The young girl finds that getting out of the Hold helps her, so she goes further and further afield, gather greens, and fishing for spiderclaws. On one of these journeys, she makes a discovery that changes her life, and takes her on a course that eventually brings her the fulfillment that her life needs.

                      My thoughts

                      This book was first published in the seventies, so when reading it now it's easy to lose sight of the fact that the world was a very different place at that time. The prejudice that Menolly experiences as a girl would be unlikely now, but that doesn't mean to say that the book isn't as useful now for young people as it would have been then. Everyone can experience prejudice, and everyone can experience people (or family) who naysay them when they want or need to take a particular course in their life. For this reason, this is a very uplifting book, making you feel that anything is possible in life.

                      Many of Anne's books, seem to have been written with younger people in mind, and I believe this is one of them, but that doesn't dostract from it in any way, as the message it promotes is applicable to anyone of any age.

                      I've read this book many times, and enjoy it every time, as it has such a 'feelgood' factor. It's easy to read, and not that long, only 176 pages, but its a well rounded out story, and Menolly is a loveable character.

                      As I've said in my previous reviews of the 'Pern' books I love the world that Anne McCaffrey has created, and what I like so much about this book is that it gives us a great insight into another side of Pern society, the Holds, rather than concentrating upon the Weyrs where the dragons, and their riders live. Don't get me wrong, there are dragons in this book, but there is more information about how the society works, and I love that aspect of it.

                      I think Anne McCaffrey is brilliant at weaving the foibles of us humans into the world and society which she has created, helping us to see how we react and interact in our own society, but placing people in a very different one. Humans are human and act that way, no matter where in the galaxy they are living.

                      Although the book ends satisfactorily, it does leave you wanting to know more of what happened to Menolly, and Ms McCaffrey doesn't disappoint, she continues her story in the next in the sequence, Dragonsinger, but that's another review!

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                        05.02.2009 16:24
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                        An enjoyable way to spend your reading time

                        I enjoy paranormal romance books. I'm not into chick lit as such, and have never been one for romance books, but introduce some paranormal element, and I'm hooked, strange, I know!

                        From my previous purchases, and other information that I've given them, Amazon recommended this book, Christine Warren's Wolf at the Door, so I decided to give it a try when I was spending some of my Dooyoo earned Amazon vouchers. I wasn't disappointed.

                        The Author

                        Christine Warren apparently gets claustrophobia is she lives in a landocked state, so she now lives in the Pacific Northwest after being raised in coastal New England. Her other fear is running out of reading material, and so she tries to put off that eventuality by writing. According to the blurb in the back of the book, she has degrees in literature and history, and so draws on her knowledge from those as well as a vivid imagination for her books.

                        The Background

                        The world Christine Warren has woven is full of wereanimals, shapeshifters, vampires, and other fantastical creatures. They live among humans but keep their true natures hidden. They call themself the 'Others'.

                        The story
                        The book opens with a Lupine, Sullivan Quinn, together with other European delegates of the Council of Others attending a soiree in New York City arranged by Adele Berry, a member of the Inner Circle of that Council. Quinn picks up a delectable aroma, and loses all thoughts of his mission.

                        His mission is to make a speech before the council designed to convince them that the time has come for the 'Others' to come out of the closet as it were, to inform humans that the Others exist, and have been living alongside humans for centuries, with no detriment to the humans. The european Council feel the need for this, as they have been made aware of an organisation called the Light of Truth is about to break this news in the hope of destroying what they view as monsters. The European Council feel that they must preempt this attack, breaking the news in their own way and in their own time.

                        The aroma which distracts Quinn, is from foxwoman Cassidy Poe, granddaughter of Adele Berry, and a renowned anthropologist in her own right. When he eventually finds her, their meeting is explosive to say the least, but doesn't go particularly well for either of them.

                        Circumstances push them together however, when things are brought to a head by the Light of Truth kidnapping the human servant of one of the Leading vampires of the European council, and the council realises she will be forced to give the fanatical organisation information which may compromise the safety of all the others. Cassidy and Quinn are assigned to investigate. Will they manage to fight the obvious attraction between them, or will they recognise the growing bond? Will the Light of Truth gain the information they need to prove the existance of the Others, and be able to use that against them? You'll have to read the book to find out.

                        My thoughts.

                        The tagline for the book is "Desire needs no invitation" which gives you the right impression of the book. This is no war and peace, but it is enjoyable. It's erotic and explicit, so if you're not into steamy sexy scenes, this isn't the book for you. If you like your stories peppered with some romantic spice then you'll enjoy this.

                        Sullivan Quinn is a typical hero, but not too smooth to be smarmy, he's fun, and everything a girl could want in a werewolf.

                        Cassidy Poe is a smart and sassy foxwoman, with a wonderful ability to come back with the witty retort, even if she dees turn to mush in the presence of her grandmother

                        Adele Berry is a the martinet of a grandmother, that takes her seat on the inner circle of the council very seriously, and her position as one of the few foxwomen in the world even more seriously.

                        The villains are suitably villainous, and there are plenty of turns and twists in the story to keep the interest. It isn't the best book I've ever read, and I wouldn't rave about it, but its a fun way to pass some time, and I will look forward to reading another book in the Others series, when I do my next Amazon order.

                        352 pages
                        Price from Amazon for new £5.49, delivered free in the UK

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                      • McVities Galaxy Cake Bar / Snacks / 82 Readings / 81 Ratings
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                        04.02.2009 15:55
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                        I would rather just have the chocolate!

                        I like chocolate. I admit it. There isn't much (or any I can think of) chocolate that I don't like, so when a colleague from work offered me a Galaxy cake bar, I wasn't going to turn it down.

                        The Galaxy cake bars come in a pack of 5, or a great value 10 pack, and the wrapper is the familiar golden brown colour similar to the Galaxy chocolate bar. Across the front is says Galaxy Cake bars , and in smaller writing it informs you they have a smooth cream centre, covered in real Galaxy chocolate. It says that this is a 10 pack and that they are individually wrapped. Above the Galaxy banner is a small McVities logo, and the information that it is baked by them.

                        On the reverse of the packet it again describes the bars, adding the information that they are delicious sponge cake. There is also the encouragement to try Galaxy muffins and Galaxy Caramel cake bars, all made with real Galaxy chocolate and baked by Mcvities.

                        There are the ingredients, and a Mcvities quality statement, letting you know you can return them if you are not completely satisfied to their Customer Services Department. There is also a chart with nutritional information. Inside are 10 (in the pack I saw) individually wrapped bars which have the same information repeated, as on the main wrapper.

                        When you open the pack, there is a rich chocolatey aroma, sweet and smooth of galaxy chocolate. The bar is quite small, completely covered in chocolate with an iced swirl of the chocolate on the top. When you bite into it the chocolate coating is reasonably thick, but not excessive, just enough to cat it thoroughly. There is a layer about half an inch deep of cake, and a thick creamy layer on top of that, a bit like a mouse, but a but thicker than that. All of this is surrounded in the chocolate.

                        I took a bite and chewed. It was pleasant and tasted of galaxy chocolate. I tried each layer seperately. The cake was soft, but a bit dry, and the creamy mousse layer tasted of nothing at all really, so the next bite tried the whole lot together again. It was pleasant, and with the chocolate coating, just tasted of Galaxy. I don't know what I was expecting other than that, but I found myself a little disappointed. What I found was that although it tasted of Galaxy chocolate, the texture was wrong, because of the dry cake, and it didn't have the smooth creamy texture, that Galaxy should have. My taste buds were very confused, and so all in all the experience was not that wonderful. It was ok, but if I'm going to eat cake, I'd like it to taste like cake, and it didn't it tasted like chocolate. If I'm going to eat chocolate, and especially if I'm going to eat Galaxy, I expect it to have that smooth rich mouth feel, that I so much enjoy when eating Galaxy.

                        The 5 packs are on offer at Tesco at the moment, at 2 packs for £2.20.

                        Nutritional info per cake
                        Energy 154 kcal
                        Protein 1.5g
                        Carbohydrate 17.2g
                        Fat 8.8g
                        Salt equivalent 0.1g

                        For such a small bar I think these are quite high in calories, and I think you could find something more substantial, and more satisfying, both in amount and in flavour for that amount of calories.

                        They contain milk soya egg and gluten and are produced in a factory handling peanuts and nuts. They do not contain dairy cream, and have no hydrogenated vegetable oil.

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                          01.02.2009 23:05
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                          great for occasional use

                          In my younger days, when you went to the cinema, there was an usherette that showed you to your seats, and there were usually two films, with an break between them, or if the film was very long there was an intermission, when the usherette came around with trays of ice cream, ice lollies and sweets. The lolly I used to like was a strawberry Mivvi, which was a shell of strawberry flavoured ice around creamy vanilla ice cream. When I opened my bottle of Avon naturals Strawberry and Guava 2 in 1 shampoo, the wonderful strawberry aroma took me back to those days, and the strawberry Mivvi. It is a strong sweet strawberry scent and is lovely.

                          I have long coloured hair, and so I have to make sure that I condition it thoroughly, or the ends ge t very dry and brittle. I usually use Herbal Essences, shampoo and conditioner for coloured hair, but when I saw this Avon 2 in 1 shampoo, on offer for only £1, I thought I must give it a try.

                          The bottle is clear plastic, so you can see the deep strawberry pink colour of the shampoo through it, and you can see how much you have left very easily. The label tells you it is Avon Naturals and has a picture of lovely ripe strawberries, then below that another photo which I assume is Guava, but I don't know for sure what they look like, so you may correct me if I'm wrong!

                          The label also tells us it is hair conditioning strawberry and guava 2 in 1 shampoo and conditioner and then repeats the information in French. the bottle contains 200ml.

                          On the rear label it says " formulated with pure strawberry and guava extracts. Nourishes smooths and protects. TO USE: Wet hair and lather, Rinse and repeat if necessary.

                          My experience.

                          AS I said when I opened it I was immediately hit by the sweet strawberry fragrance which I really liked, and I liked the colour of the shampoo as I poured it out into my hand. It is thick and creamy, with a sort of pearlised finish so that it has swirls of deeper and lighter colour runnning through it. When I lathered it up, it lathered well, although I had used a generous portion, as I do have quite a lot of hair. The strawberry aroma stayed when I rinsed it off, and I didn't need to repeat. I was a bit concerned that my hair would be tangled, and would need to be tugged and therefore stretched to get the comb through it, but the conditioning effect had worked quite well, and the comb slid throough it quite easily, so I was quite pleased. When I had dried my hair it looked quite shiny, although not perhaps as shiny as normal. It still smelled good, although the smell didn't last that long.

                          The next time I tried the shampoo I tried using a little less, and that was much less of a success. I didnt have enough to lather, so had to repeat the process after rinsing, but this managed to tangle my hair much more, and so I had much more trouble getting the tangles out before I dried it.

                          So in my experience if you are generous with the amount you use, its very successful, but it doesn't work so well if you have to repeat the shampooing. I will probably buy this again, and use it, but I wouldn't recommend it to be used all the time, I think a seperate shampoo and conditioner would be much better for your hair, and this would be useful to use when you've been swimming, or just when you're in a hurry in the shower, and need to save a few minutes.

                          I give it 5 stars for the lovely scent that gave me a nostalgic reminder of the strawberry Mivvi, but only 3 stars for the actual product.

                          Available from Avon, on offer at £1 in the last catalogue.

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                            31.01.2009 21:14
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                            A great treat when you're near a Krispy Kreme franchise

                            I was in Birmingham the other day with my husband, and when we were almost ready for home he asked me if there was anywhere else I wanted to go. I had been thinking of visiting the Krispy Kreme doughnuts bar in the Selfridges in the Bull ring, and we weren't too far away froim there, so I suggested we try these doughnuts that I had heard so much about.

                            As we approached the shop which is on Level one of Selfridges in the Bull ring, there was a huge rotating neon sign letting us know that there were doughnuts being cooked at that moment, so it was possible to get them 'hot'. We then noticed a long queue, and this almost put us off, but we decided to wait, as we weren't particularly in a hurry, and we didn't have too long to wait as the queue moved quite quickly.

                            Where we were standing was interesting as you could see the hot doughnuts coming out of the oven and then being glazed, leaving them looking shiny, and delicious. The sugary glaze is poured over the ring doughnuts, and then the surplus drops into a big tank which I assume is pumped around to go over the next lot. There were so many! Hundreds of doughnuts being made, so although we had never tried them before, we realised just how popular they must be.

                            I knew they were an American company, that had opened franchises in this country, so I looked on the web site (www. krispykreme.co.uk) for a little bit more information about them. I won't reproduce the information here, as if you want to know the history it is all available on the website, but I'll just say that they started in North Carolina in 1937, and opened their first store in the UK in Harrods in October 2003. There are quite a few franchises now in the UK, (again yo u can find out exactly where on the website) and there are even some Tesco branches that stock them, sadly not the Tesco near me!

                            We probably held the queue up longer than anyone else, because we couldn't make out minds up which ones to try, they all look so delicious. They are sold singly or in dozens, and if you buy a double dozen, there is a bulk discount, and you get £2 off. These doughnuts are not cheap. THe glazed ones were £1.10, and the prices go up from there.

                            As there are only two of us, we didn't think we could manage a dozen so I didn't take note of how much a dozen cost. There are 15 varieties, so something to please every taste. We tried four of the varieties, and because we both wanted to try them all, we cut them in half, and had half of each of the four flavours we bought!

                            Original glazed: we had to try this one as we had seen them being made. This is a ring doughnut with a crispy sugar glaze, making the doughnut look a little like a bagel, but much shinier, and more delicious looking! When you sink your teeth into the glaze it cracks easily, and your teeth slide through it easily into the fluffy doughnut below. I like doughnuts, always have, but this has to be the king of doughnuts. I have never tasted anything so delicious, and the glaze is so much easier to eat than a regular sugared doughnut, and even tastier, absolutely gorgeous, light and fluffy, gone all too soon, so now I'm beginning to understand how a regular family could eat a dozen!

                            Cinnamon apple filled: This is like a regular jam doughnut, but instead of a jam filling it is filled with an apple and cinnamon filling. Again the dough was fluffy and light, and there was plenty of filling, which was full of chunks of apple, and with just the right amount of cinnamon, so that it was flavourful, but not overpowering. Very tasty, with an icing sugar sprinkled top.

                            Chocolate iced, custard filled: Again similar to a jam doughnut but this one had a chocolate iced topping, and instead of jam was filled with creamy custard. I recently wrote a review on custard slices, so if you read that you know I'm a fan of this type of confectioner's custard, and this was no disappointment, it was sweet and creamy, and complimented the doughnut and chocolate beautifully. Move over custard slices, here come custard doughnuts!

                            Chocolate Dreamcake: What can I say, this is a chocoholics delight! The beautiful fluffy light doughnut, filled with a creamy soft chocolate filling, iced with chocolate flavoured icing and then sprinkled with milk, dark and white chocolate curls. Mmmmm!! Delicious! My husband was worried that this one might be sickly, or the chocolate filling would be too runny, but it was just perfect, nice chocolatey flavour, just the right consitency. We were both very impressed.

                            We didn't eat them all at the same time, but had two halves when we got home, and the other two later on in the evening, but I'm sure we could have made room for more if we'd forced ourselves. I would imagine it would be very difficult to stop at one, if you had a dozen available, so I don't think I shall ever indulge to that degree unless I know there are more people than my husband and I to eat them! the are definitely moreish, and when you think about the fat and sugar content, these can't be healthy eating. They are very enjoyable though, and ideal as an occasional treat.

                            The other flavours that we didn't try:

                            Cinnamon bun: flavoured with cinnamon and topped with the original glaze
                            Glazed lemon filled: jam doughnut type filled with lemon filling and topped with original glaze
                            Chocolate Iced Glazed: an original glazed doughnut dipped in chocolate icing
                            Maple Iced Glazed: an original glazed doughnut dipped in maple icing
                            Glazed Raspberry filled: raspberry jam doughnut covered top and bottom in glaze
                            Chocolate Iced Creme filled: the 'jam' doughnut type filled with a smooth white creme filling, topped off with chocolate icing
                            Glazed Cruller: a cruller shape (a wheel with diagonal slices into it, no I never heard of it either) topped with original glaze
                            Glazed chocolate cake: rich moist chocolate cake topped with original glaze
                            Vanilla cake: Rich moist cake doughnut flavoured with sour cream and topped with glaze
                            Powdered blueberry filled: A regular 'jam' doughnut but filled with blueberry and topped with icing sugar

                            So there are plenty more to try next time we have a visit to Birmingham. I'm looking forward to it!

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                              30.01.2009 16:32
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                              Be prepared to get addicted

                              Dragonquest is the second in the Dragonriders of Pern Series by Anne Mccaffrey, and is set 7 years after the first, Dragonflight. It is better if you have read the first book, as you have already been introduced to the main characters F'lar and Lessa, and this book continues their story.

                              The Author
                              Anne McCaffrey was born in 1926 in Cambridge Massachusetts. She graduated from Radcliffe College, majoring in Slavonic Languages and Literatures. She tried various careers, including acting, before turning her attention to writing, and her first novel was published in 1967. She now lives in County Wicklow in Ireland.

                              Although the Dragonriders of Pern is often placed in the fantasy genre, Anne herself is adamant that it is science fiction.

                              The background

                              Humankind have moved out into the far reaches of the galaxy, and a colony was built upon the planet of Pern. Just when things were beginning to get settled, a strange planet came close to Pern with its unusual elliptical orbit. This planet had a lifeform which sought to bridge the gap between the planets finding its way to the more hospitable Pern, dropping from the skies as silver threads, eating its way through anything organic and thus almost destroying the newly formed colony. The scientists that are left work to find a solution, and using their skills, they genetically engineer an indigenous life form to fight the insidious threads. These come to be known as dragons, named after the mythic beasts of earth, and their riders are respected and feted as they fight the threat to the colony. The riders and their beasts have a telepathic relationship, and if a rider dies, his dragon cannot survive without him. An almost medieval society grows over the centuries, as technology and information is lost over time, in the fight for survival. When the orbit of the strange planet swings it out of reach of Pern for several centuries, the respect for the dragon riders begins to wane, as do the numbers of the dragons and their riders.

                              The story

                              The story starts seven years on from the end of Dragonflight, when the drastic measures that Lessa took to prevent the colony from being wiped out by the falling thread organism, have become commonplace in the minds of most people, and now new problems start to arise. More drastic measures are needed, and we see tensions build between the various factions on the planet, which lead to F'lar taking strong measures to control the situation. As life continues on Pern, we see tragedy and heartbreak, romance and hope for the future, and a chance discovery which opens people's minds and hearts, giving them a greater understanding of the dragonriders, and the wonderful relationship which they have with their beasts.

                              My opinion

                              There isn't a great deal of plot to this book, but there is a great deal of interest in it. It's beautifully written, easy to read, and draws the reader in weaving magic with the wonderful society that the author has built, so that you are compelled to keep reading, just to find out what happens to the characters. There are characters we know from the first book, and many new ones introduced, some of which you can tell are just tasters for books yet to come. There are good and evil characters, and some that you just want to slap, but they are all interesting, and make you want to read more. I love this book, it makes me laugh at times and there is one scene which it doesn't matter how many times I read this book, it brings tears to my eyes every time. Highly recommended, but I would recommend having read Dragonflight first, and I would warn about getting addicted to the series, and having to buy the rest of the sequence.

                              It's available from Amazon for £5.99 at the moment.

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                              • The Forbidden Kingdom (DVD) / DVD / 76 Readings / 74 Ratings
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                                25.01.2009 03:50
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                                suspend your disbelief and enjoy!

                                I like science fiction and fantasy. Books, movies, artwork, I just love the genre. I also like Jackie Chan, so a fantasy story starring Jackie Chan is right up my street, and I've been looking forward to seeing this film.

                                The story starts with an incredible fight between the Monkey King (Jet Li) and various flying warriors, on the top of a mountain range. The scene shifts to a young man,(Jason Tripitikas played by Michael Angarano.) who was obviously dreaming of the Monkey King, just waking from his dream, and the camera pans around his bedroom to show us a shrine to kung fu.

                                We next see Jason at a Chinese pawnshop, where he is obviously wellknown by the owner Old Hop (Jackie Chan). Whilst looking for more kung fu films to watch, Jason spots a staff in the back room, and asks the old man about it. He is informed that it was pawned there many years ago, and his father waited all his life for someone to come and reclaim it, and now he has waited all his life. Jason leaves with his films, and meets up with a gang of youths, who coerce him to go back to see Old Hop, and then try to rob him. Old Hop gets shot, and admonishes Jason to see that the staff gets to it's rightful owner. Jason flees, taking the staff, with the gang after him. He turns to confront them on a rooftop, and looks as if he is about to get shot, when the staff slams into his chest and he is propelled by some mystical force over the edge of the building and falls. We next see him waking in Ancient China, in different clothing, still with the staff in his hand. Thus his adventure begins, and what an adventure!

                                It is a typical 'quest' type fantasy, with Jason meeting up with various characters who will be able to help him fulfill his promise to Old Hop, and help him overcome many dangers and obstacles along the way.

                                The scenery is stunning, and although I suppose most of it was computer generated, it was incredible, and beautifully done. The fight sequences are amazing, and although in the back of your mind you know it is wirework, it is still impressive. The fights are imaginative and anything and everything around is used as weaponry, from Jet Li's Silent Monk character using the sleeves of his robe, to the witch with white hair using her hair. It makes for fast paced, thrilling action, with you never knowing where the fights are going next or what the outcome will be.

                                It isn't the kind of movie that you have to think deeply about, and the way the story unfolds is somewhat predictable, but it is enjoyable, if you leave your brain out of it.

                                The main characters
                                Jason Tripitikas ( Michael Angarano) I couldn't make my mind up about his performance, there was something that made me unsure about him, but it was adequate. I think perhaps that as the main character I should have liked him better than I did, but there were times when I just found him annoying.

                                Jackie Chan (Lu Yan/Old hop) What can I say about Jackie Chan? You know what to expect when you see his name on the cast list, and this was no different, classic! I did think he was beginning to look a little old for the action that he was doing, but I'm all for older people doing whatever they want, as long as they feel they can!

                                Jet Li (The Monkey King/ the silent monk) I didn't recognise Jet Li as the monkey king straightaway, so I felt he did a great job, as the characters he played in the film were totally different. The Monkey King is fun and quirky, whereas the Silent Monk has the calm you associate with a monk, so the two parts were a great contrast and Jet Li carried them both off beautifully.

                                Yifie Liu (Golden Sparrow/Chinatown girl) A beautiful performance from a beautiful girl. She played the character with the emotion it needed, and the gentle feeling that grew between her and Jason was lovely to watch.

                                Collin Chou (Jade Warlord) suitably menacing, powerful and arrogant, he played the part to perfection.

                                Bingbing Li (Ni Chang) Again a very menacing performance, from a character who knows what she wants and is going to do everything she can to get it. Some brilliant wirework and watch out for her hair!

                                I thoroughly enjoyed this film, although it is clearly fantasy, belief definitely has to be suspended for the 113 minutes it runs. It's somewhat predictable, but then isn't any story involving good trying to overcome evil? You are pretty sure of the outcome before you start, and its the twists and turns that make the journey interesting and worthwhile, and there are a couple of turns in this one, although nothing that would take you too far back in your seat. THe costumes and sets are impressive, giving the whole film a colourful and opulent look, and as I said earlier, some of the scenery is magnificent. If it is CG, its damn good!

                                The DVD is available for Amazon for the price of £11.98. It was classified as 12.

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