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It has been over a year since I posted a review. I can't say I have any new ones in production at the moment either! I will return a rate but please leave a comment so I can see which review you've rated and when. xx

Reviews written

since 01/08/2005


The Horseshoes Inn, Pontesbury 11/11/2011

No Horsing Around Here!

The Horseshoes Inn, Pontesbury Towards the end of August, we decided to take a short break to Shropshire where we rented a cottage in the cosy village of Minsterley. Mum, and everyone else for that matter, avoids cooking like the plague whilst we’re on holiday so we went out every evening for food. With nowhere within walking distance which took our fancy, we travelled by car on four occasions to the next village of Pontesbury which offered a better selection of pubs serving food. The first of these that I shall review is the Horseshoes Inn, a quaint little pub which was the shortest distance away. GREETINGS, DECOR AND LOCATION Situated on Minsterley Road, very near the sign signifying your passing through Pontesbury into Minsterley, the Horseshoes Inn, from the outside, looks like a very small building whose sole purpose is to operate as a drinking establishment. I would urge you to not drive past if you are in the area: although there is a steady stream of locals who use the Horseshoes Inn primarily for that reason, it’s not the pub’s only purpose. The front door is the main entrance for customers and as you stroll in, you arrive at the bar area. On both occasions, the landlord himself was there to cheerily greet us and serve our drinks. The Horseshoes Inn is not host to an exceptionally large bar but there is still a varied selection of drinks on offer from fruit juices, such as pineapple and cranberry, to regular lagers and ciders you’d expect to find elsewhere, like Strongbow. Local brewery ...

Nevermind - Nirvana 30/10/2011

Anthems for Doomed Youth?

Nevermind - Nirvana Just over twenty years ago, on the 24th September 1991, one of the most significant albums in music history emerged from the underground rock scene to become a record destined to be more than just a cult classic. In fact, 'Nevermind' is still celebrated today as one of the most important albums of all time: it infested in the ears of mainstream music lovers and garnered the American trio, singer, song-writer and guitarist Kurt Cobain, bassist Krist Novoselic and drummer Dave Grohl, much unexpected commercial success. Nirvana's first album 'Bleach' failed to make quite the same impact upon its release in 1989 and Cobain in particular wanted to ensure that the group's second album was one created because of their influences instead of succumbing to the pressures of the grunge scene. The grunge sound, a genre famed for its distorted guitar arrangements and punk/metal aspirations, is still a notable facet of 'Nevermind's' appeal but Cobain wanted to craft melodies comparable to his idols, The Pixies and R.E.M. 'Nevermind' is an album which I've had in my record collection for many years but it's not one that I listen to very often; at first, I thought that the twelve songs were too similar and not as imaginative or as intriguing as those from the group's next release, 'In Utero'. Yet it's undeniable that 'Nevermind' illustrates an unmistakable, brooding sound which manages to be bold and insecure all at once. 'Nevermind' will for many people be Nirvana's signature record, ...

HTC Sensation 10/10/2011

Are You Ready For The New Sensation?

HTC Sensation I’m the kind of girl that likes technology but not the price tag so I was delighted when Ciao asked me if I’d still be willing to test the new HTC Sensation Smartphone. Although I’m very much in love with my Samsung B3410, I’ve always been curious about Smartphones with the main question being would I really benefit from owning one? For those of you that are blissfully unaware, a Smartphone is a device which can not only send and receive phone calls and text messages but you also have a satellite navigation system and a sophisticated web browser at your fingertips. However is the HTC Sensation sensational by name, sensational by nature? DESIGN, KEY FEATURES AND WHAT YOU GET IN THE BOX Appearance-wise, the HTC Sensation is not too dissimilar to the iPhone: both include large screens (the Sensation’s is about 5.5cm wide by 9.5cm) with a predominantly black base. But there are a few subtle differences which makes this HTC standout, including the back cover which is three tonal, merging from a light-grey to black. Its exterior is sleek and essentially not gender-bias which I personally like - just because I’m a girl, it doesn’t mean I want a neon pink phone! At nearly 150g, the phone is a little weighty but not excessively so; it sits almost comfortably in the palm of my hand and is thin enough to slide into most pockets with a depth of just over a centimetre. The front of the phone features four navigational keys underneath the screen, including an outline of a ...

Blist's Hill Victorian Museum, Madeley, Telford 20/09/2011

Bliss at Blists Hill?

Blist's Hill Victorian Museum, Madeley, Telford For a long time, I’ve enjoyed visiting museums based upon the not-so-distant past; attractions such as Yesterday’s World in Great Yarmouth and the Black Country Museum in Dudley have always fascinated me for their examination of Victorian England. Although my last visited to Dudley over two years ago was somewhat of a disappointment, I was still eager to visit Blists Hill, a similar tourist attraction situated close to Ironbridge in Shropshire. Apparently, I’ve been to the Victorian Town before but I can’t remember the occasion so this review will definitely be focused upon Blists Hill as it is today. OK SO IT’S A VICTORIAN TOWN IN IRONBRIDGE. WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO KNOW ABOUT BLISTS HILL? Blists Hill is an open-air museum which was built upon the grounds of an old industrial complex in the 1970s. The museum is essentially a collection of working shops, industrial workplaces and houses that people living in the 19th century would have used on a daily basis. The buildings themselves were either already present on the original site, such as the blast furnace; have been based upon several shops from the era, such as the locksmith; or have incorporated original fixtures and fittings from other places across England, such as the New Inn which used to stand in Walsall. Blists Hill is set across fifty acres of woodland but to me it didn’t seem as if we’d walked that much or that far by the end of the day: the different buildings were separated across the area but not in a way ...

Intriguer - Crowded House 22/08/2011


Intriguer - Crowded House Unable to use the CD player by himself at nearly 60 years of age, last year my Dad gave me the latest Crowded House album and told me to play it as soon as possible. It was meant to be a Christmas prezzie for my Mum and he has this rather weird complex that every album he buys is going to be faulty. So here I am reviewing another Crowded House album, this time 2010’s ‘Intriguer’, the band’s second release since the death of original drummer Paul Hester. Truth to be told, I do quite like a lot of Crowded House’s music: it’s melodic and well written but usually quite mellow. Lead singer and songwriter Neil Finn has spoken before about his fondness of The Beatles and some of this album is very Fab Fourish in nature. The group has been on the go since the mid-1980s and has seen many changes to its line up but Neil has been the front man throughout the many alterations. In fact, ‘Intriguer’ is a record that follows in the same vein as many of Crowded House’s other efforts but with one major difference: many tracks attempt to sound current by today’s musical standards. That doesn’t mean that the band have lost their love of deep lyrics or have reverted into gangstas; what it does mean, however, is that ‘Intriguer’ is quite dissimilar to the music Crowded House are known for. This album becomes a collection of diverse musical textures but, in my opinion, it’s an album that takes several listens to appreciate and even then, it’s still a bit hit and miss... ‘VISIONS OF THE ...

Artorio's Mediterranean Taverna, Norwich 10/08/2011

The Gem of Riverside

Artorio's Mediterranean Taverna, Norwich After three years of reading, writing and a little bit of drinking in-between, it was time to bid farewell to University. It was time to graduate which is, naturally, a very special occasion; Grandparents want countless photographs of you in the ridiculous, owl-like cape you have to wear and parents want to sit in the front row with a camera in one hand and a tissue in the other. For me though, I told my parents that I would only go to graduation on one condition: if they promised to take me to my favourite restaurant in Norwich afterwards. Truthfully, only a small amount of persuasion was needed for them to agree; over the past two years, Mum and I have used any and every excuse we could find in order to convince Daddy dearest that we should take a trip to Artorio’s, a Mediterranean Taverna located on the outskirts of the city centre. Hand on heart, I’ve never had a bad meal there; on some occasions, the food could have been a little warmer upon arrival and the service a little quicker but otherwise it has been a delightful restaurant to visit again and again. As a result, this review will not just focus upon one specific visit but rather serve as an account of many. DECOR, STYLE AND SET UP Artorio’s is situated at the heart of the Riverside complex on the fringes of Norwich, across the road from the train station and within walking distance of the Premier Inn on Prince of Wales Road. The independent eatery sits amongst many chain restaurants, including Chiquito’s ...

Ghost Stories - Chantal Kreviazuk (CD) 20/07/2011

Chantal The Friendly Ghost

Ghost Stories - Chantal Kreviazuk (CD) (Please note: this review is for the bonus edition of the CD. I did ask Ciao to list it as such but, uh, it sort of didn't happen...) About three years ago, I branded Chantal Kreviazuk’s album ‘What If It All Means Something’ as a record which offered listeners both outstanding and abysmal tracks in equal measure; the Canadian-born, classically trained pianist’s third album lacked an identity, meaning that she did not stand out as a pop artist. However, by the time of 2006’s ‘Ghost Stories’, it was apparent that Chantal had really developed her own sound, veering towards the adult market rather than the generalised pop audience of her 2002 release. ‘Ghost Stories’, as you will learn, is a theatrical yet accomplished album; the twelve new tracks on the special edition version I own dip between melodrama and euphoria with wonderful ease and precision. As you will also discover, there are many aspects of the album that should not have worked: my previous reviews suggest that gospel choirs just aren’t to my taste. Yet Chantal and her producer husband, Our Lady Peace’s Raine Maida, managed to create an album which is nothing short of a sophisticated, modern classic and a record that I just can’t stop listening to. ‘WE WERE PLANNING OUR ESCAPE’ (Lyrics from ‘Ghosts of You’) The stressed, sober string instruments lure the listener into the album’s opener, ‘Ghosts of You’, the very epitome of a heart wrenching ballad. The song was written about two significant figures from ...

Bootleggers Steak House and Grill, Spalding 28/06/2011

Quick, Leg It!

Bootleggers Steak House and Grill, Spalding On the rare occasion when I choose to write about a recent dining experience, I only tend to put finger to keyboard after visiting an unsatisfactory eatery: after many years, I’m still yet to reveal just how many portions of sticky toffee pudding I could devour in one sitting at Prezzos or praise my village’s local pub, The Merry Monk. But after evenings like the one we had in Spalding a few weeks ago, it seems crystal clear as to why I feel the need to name and shame substandard restaurants... One Sunday afternoon, we were going to stop at the tried and tested Hungry Horse in Spalding on the way home from Peterborough. Sadly, the many vehicles on the car park deterred us so we travelled on until we reached Bootleggers, a recently opened Steak House, Grill and Carvery located in the heart of the town. Bootleggers is situated above a Chinese buffet and was an Indian restaurant beforehand. When we arrived at half past five, it wasn’t very busy and we thought that was something to do with the time. However, it seems that the good people of Spalding were avoiding Bootleggers for many other reasons... FIRST IMPRESSIONS AND AMBIANCE I’ll point out from the start that it’s like an Olympic event to reach Bootleggers; the many, many steps leading up to the establishment may be a tad difficult for small children to negotiate or indeed the elderly who are unsteady on their feet. I could be wrong but we did not see a lift for wheelchair users either near the entrance or in the ...

Our Lady Peace - Healthy In Paranoid Times (DVD) 28/04/2011

Deteriorating In Paranoid Times

Our Lady Peace - Healthy In Paranoid Times (DVD) [Please note: this is a review of the dual disk version of ‘Healthy in Paranoid Times’. It’s not just a DVD as Ciao have listed it. The CD plays as normal on a CD player but on the reverse side is a DVD which you, obviously, play on a DVD player. Dual disks not that common in the UK but can be obtainable from places like the Amazon marketplace.] After 1165 days in the recording studio, Canada’s answer to the Stereophonics returned with their sixth studio album. ‘Healthy in Paranoid Times’ materialised in 2005, over three years since Our Lady Peace’s last creation divided fans. For some, 2002’s ‘Gravity’ was an album of evolution as the band distanced themselves from the screeching guitars and pulsating drums of earlier records. For others, like yours truly, ‘Gravity’ will forever remain a better coaster than a CD: to me, it was a record that could have been released by a completely different band. Instead of the quirky lyrics of old (a personal, laugh out loud favourite being ‘talking is just masturbating without the mess’ from 1999’s ‘Happiness Is Not A Fish That You Can Catch’), eardrums were assaulted with naff affirmations of innocent youth falling into the trappings of celebrity. The guitars and drumbeats sounded comatosed and lyricist Raine Maida’s typically psychotic falsetto vocals had seemingly been suppressed with Prozac, resulting in a record that was bland, confused and pretentious at best. ‘Healthy In Paranoid Times’, therefore, had two directions: it could ...

Spooks - Series 7 - Complete (Box Set) (DVD) 31/01/2011

From Russia...With Love?!

Spooks - Series 7 - Complete (Box Set) (DVD) Even though I am a fan of crime dramas, it wasn’t until a certain tall, dark and handsome screen actor joined the cast of Spooks in 2008 that I decided to give the show a chance. Set in London at the famous Thames House, Spooks follows MI5’s Section D as they endeavour to protect Britain from a multitude of national and international security threats, such as terrorism and promises of nuclear advancement. Since its debut on BBC1 in 2002, the Kudos produced drama has widely been regarded as a topical if not controversial TV programme: in just episode two, Lisa Faulkner’s character, Helen, met a gruesome end that sparked the highest number of complaints to Ofcom that year. From what I can gather - and judging by the three seasons that I have watched so far - Spooks has continued to test the viewer’s nerves which is, partly, why I’ve become hooked on the show. Of the eighty episodes in existence across nine seasons, eight of those belong to series seven, the point in the show’s history in which I became an avid viewer. Each episode of series seven has a running time of roughly sixty minutes and features the return of some old faces as well as the introduction of a new, could-be double agent from Russia. But do they arrive in London with love? SERIES OVERVIEW Once the head of Section D, Lucas North (Richard Armitage) returns to the grid after eight years away; after a botched operation in Russia, Lucas’ life was turned upside down upon his imprisonment and ...

John Lennon Collection - John Lennon 08/12/2010

'I Was Dreamin' of The Past...'

John Lennon Collection - John Lennon For anybody that lives in Pepperland, it may not have escaped your attention that today marks the 30th anniversary since John Lennon’s death. I wasn’t born until nearly nine years after his departure but the date still affects me in the same way I suspect it does many Beatlemaniacs: it’s a day of unparalleled mourning for a man we never knew but like to think we did through his music. Truth to be told, I’ve never listened to much of John’s solo stuff: I always felt he was at his very best when he was playing Devil’s advocate with his most prolific song writing partner, Paul McCartney. But I do have great affection for some of his solo works, some of which display the same timeless vigour of those he wrote with McCartney throughout the 60s. ‘The John Lennon Collection’ was released in 1982 and again in 1989 but was the first collection of songs to be released following his death. The album is a compilation of nineteen songs, many of which were recorded between 1970 and 1975, with the other six songs emerging from Yoko and John’s last collaboration together ‘Double Fantasy’, an album released a mere three weeks before he died. This review will not mope about the fact that John’s not here today, still rocking on at 70 years of age and urging others to think about the world but rather to celebrate an album which includes many of John’s most prominent post-Beatles themes: war, peace and most importantly love. It’s not a record which is flawless, as you’ll discover in a ...

Songs from the Tainted Cherry Tree - Diana Vickers 09/11/2010

Marmite Coated Cherries

Songs from the Tainted Cherry Tree - Diana Vickers Standing on stage in front of a crowd of people and many millions more watching at home, most 17 year olds would crumble at the thought of being called ‘the singing version of Marmite’ by the so-called nastiest man in pop, Simon Cowell. Yet Diana Vickers seemed to wear the remark as a badge of honour when she appeared on the X Factor two years ago, advancing to the semi-finals where she unfortunately got knocked out (not literally) at the final stage. But why was she described as the singing version of Marmite, I hear all of you Cowell cynics cry? Vickers has a very distinctive voice: not distinctive in a Bjork kind of way (although her vocals can be compared to the Icelandic ones) but rather in a husky, screechy kind of way; one false note in any song could have been the breaking point between a good and a bad performance. But that’s why I personally liked Diana’s vocals as she was a hell of a lot more original than the Leona Lewis’ and Alexandra Burke’s of the show. Since stumbling at the final hurdle in 2008, Vickers has been a very busy young lady: she’s appeared alongside Mark Warren in the play ‘The Rise and Fall of Little Voice’ which earned her the Theatregoers’ Choice of The Year Award for Best Newcomer and released her debut album, ‘Songs From The Tainted Cherry Tree’. Released in the May of this year, the album peaked at number one in the UK charts and also spawned a number one single. On that reckoning, you’d think that ‘Songs From The Tainted Cherry Tree’ ...

De Niro's, Boston 29/10/2010

Talking Italian?

De Niro's, Boston The 27th of June 2010 will be a date that goes down in history for two reasons. Firstly, it was the day that England got kicked out of the World Cup after an abysmal loss to old foes the Germans. Secondly, it was the day I half expected to return home and find a horse’s head perched on my pillow after dining out with my family... My Brother and I decided to take our parents out for a nice meal as a belated Wedding Anniversary gift. For anybody that lives in Boston or the surrounding area, you’ll only be too aware of the struggle to find a decent restaurant in the town: there are plenty of places that are good for a quick bite to eat but we wanted somewhere that felt a little more special. We were half debating going to the town’s Prezzo’s but after I found a hair in my food the last time we visited, we decided to abandon that idea. Then we remembered that one of the town’s independent Italian restaurants had recently changed hands. I wasn’t particularly keen on trying De Niro’s: after browsing the menu, I found many of the signature Italian dishes to be a little uninspired and I also remembered the time when De Niro’s was the ill-fated – and rather bland – Lilo’s about a decade ago. Even though the restaurant had different people running it, I was still a little weary as I’d never heard any reports about the restaurant, either good or bad. Alas my Brother’s optimism won out and we decided to give De Niro’s a try. To this day, I’m still not sure whether to applaud him ...

Yesterday's World, Great Yarmouth 12/10/2010

We Were Amused!

Yesterday's World, Great Yarmouth My Uni buddies and I are a bit bonkers, but with good reason. Laughing seems to be the best antidote to reading books about poverty stricken Indian boys with water on the brain and so we wanted to return to Great Yarmouth for a bit of light hearted fun. When we first visited the seaside town back in the February of this year (yes it was flippin’ cold and wet!), we stopped at a place called ‘Yesterday’s World’, a museum dedicated to the past and specifically the Victorian era. For some reason we’ve been captivated by the place ever since and vowed to go back. So what better time to revisit ‘Yesterday’s World’ than at the start of October during my Birthday weekend? Well perhaps during the summer when it was warm and sunny, yes, but otherwise, the start of October seemed like a good idea! FINDING YESTERDAY’S WORLD... ...Is surprisingly easy as long as you know how to make it to the seafront. If you’re taking your own transport to the town, you’ll need to follow the signs to the beach from the A12/A47. Yesterday’s World does not have a car park so you’d need to be prepared to find somewhere to leave your vehicle and also walk to the attraction when visiting. The nearest car park seems to be near the train station which is roughly fifteen to twenty minutes away from the attraction. The number 3 First bus is in operation during the summer months although I didn’t see one running at all throughout our day in Great Yarmouth which was unusual for a Saturday, regardless of ...

National Trust: Sutton Hoo, Woodbridge 23/09/2010

Sutton Who?!

National Trust: Sutton Hoo, Woodbridge When Mrs. Pretty moved to Sutton Hoo in 1926, it’s doubtful that she knew the treasures that her estate, and the many mounds of ground, held. There had been whispers since the start of the 20th century that the 103 acres of land were home to some very unique artefacts. Yet, it wasn’t until 1939 when the full extent of such rumours became known: lead by local archaeologist Basil Brown, who enlisted the help of Pretty’s gardener and gamekeeper, excavation began two years prior to the main discovery in the first mound near the River Deben after one of Mrs. Pretty’s house guests awoke in the night to see a group of ghostly soldiers marching across the terrain. The trio’s findings were astonishing: an Anglo-Saxon ship burial and the King’s personal possessions. The Sutton Hoo excavation was carried out quickly because of the outbreak of World War Two. However the fast – and vast - discovery is largely considered to be one of the most significant in British History and Sutton Hoo was explored once again by the Museum in Ipswich. Although the burial grounds had clearly been looted some time before Brown’s team began digging, the mounds were home to many important relics, such as the treasures of the possible King Rædwald as well as information on Anglo-Saxon burial practices. In spite of its obvious history and importance, it was never in our plans to visit Sutton Hoo during our time in Suffolk: on the Friday, we wanted to spend the day in Bury St. Edmunds. Alas, after Mum ...
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