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since 15/10/2009

165 22/03/2013

That's A Waste Of Time That's Entertainment is both an online and physical high street retailer of mostly used CDs, DVDs and video games but it also sells new titles. I have only ever shopped from them online so can only comment on this. I once tried to find their Norwich store but it appeared to have closed down. They seemingly have other stores in many major cities across the UK, but not London. That's Entertainment pride themselves on being cheap, and in this they definitely succeed as they sell cheaper than most other places on the web, and their postage is free so the price you see is the price you get. Items start in price from £1.99 upwards and their pricing seems slightly scatter-gun in approach. Alot of old Popular titles are £1.99 as you'd expect but you can usually also find more obscure items at this price that I assume they have struggled to shift. The site itself is charmingly designed with a handmade appeal and navigation around it is straightforward with simple search options by artist, title, etc... You can also browse by genre and price bracket although for me, I have found these features to never actually work properly. There are no advance search options so you are limited to simple searches which will be enough for most people. Paying is also straight forward but is outsourced so you leave the site to do it, but seems secure - I haven't to date had any issues. In all though, the site is self explanatory and well presented and laid out. All sounds too good to be true, right? ...

Meat Liquor, London 23/02/2013

For Meat Lovers Only

Meat Liquor, London Meat liquor is a restaurant in Central London just behind Oxford street. Meat liquor sell meat... And that's about it. The restaurant itself is incredibly dark. Upon arriving, you'll wonder if it's even open such is the gloom within. They also have numerous notices on the front door that from a distance also make it look like its closed down. Once inside, you'll need to adjust your eyes because it really is that dark. It's a little like going to the cinema during the day, and the same applies when leaving. We went for a business lunch on a bright day so the contrast was all the more apparent. Decor, that you can see anyway, was fairly simple involving wooden tables and leather upholstered booths and seating. This is soundtracked by pleasantly volumed music which mostly involved country and rock tracks from 60's and 70's. It was unobtrusive and if, like me, you like that kind of thing then it was an added bonus. It was fairly busy when we arrived on a Wednesday lunchtime and we got the last table available. The menu is straight forward - burgers and sides. Burgers are mainly a variation on a beef burger but they also had a couple of chicken options. Sides are classic diner style sides ranging from fries through to coleslaw. Given the limited selection, I ordered a cheese and bacon burger with fries. This was in my opinion excellent value given the location, with the burger at £7.00 and fries at £3.00. I washed it down with a diet coke. The food arrived promptly and the ...

Hix Mayfair, London 08/02/2013

Best of British

Hix Mayfair, London We went to Hix for my birthday this year as my wife knows me to be a fan of unfussy, British food served in good portion sizes. Hix is part of a chain of restaurants in London, the one that we visited was in Mayfair and part of Brown's hotel. Hix is a smart establishment full of timeless style that seems to be very evident in this part of London with the likes of the Wolsey close by. With this it adds a touch of modernity and the decadent with works of art by contemporary British artists such as Tracy Emin adorning walls and corners. This leads to the restaurant in places having a slightly schizophrenic feel but by and large the juxtapositions work (although the neon sign at the end of the dining room was somewhat off putting). Amidst the art works you will find beautiful wooden paneling and pillars, enormous concrete fireplaces, marble hints and stylish upholstered seating. The dress code is smart casual - they don't insist on wearing a jacket but most there did so anything too casual i would think would seem out of place here. It's a very quiet restaurant with no music and little in the way of noise from fellow diners. It attracts an older crowd and businessmen so I don't think the kind of place likely to cater for large noisy parties. Conversation volume was kept by and large to a hushed whisper. We went for a weeknight dinner and the restaurant was about half full. Our reservation was for 8.30 and that seemed a popular time to dine here as most other diners arrived at a ...

The Caledonian, Edinburgh 19/11/2012

First Class

The Caledonian, Edinburgh The Caledonian hotel in Edinburgh is located in the west end of the city, around 5 mins walk from Princes Street and a short walk to most other key attractions. Formerly owned by Hilton, it has recently undergone a makeover under it's new owners, Waldorf Astoria. The building was once a railway station but now boasts a glorious 5 star hotel. The Caledonian hotel is somewhat deceptive from the outside entrance which does not hint at the vast grandeur within. The reception area is relatively small with seemingly most of the airy station space being given to the spacious bar and adjoining grand main staircase. The hotel boasts 241 rooms of 5 star luxury at prices ranging from £129.00. Our room was bought as a gift so I don't know the exact cost but I think there was a deal on as full refurbishment of the hotel was not complete - both car park and spa were not available for use as work had not finished on them yet. As such, I can't comment on their quality. Our room was standard room on the first floor. It was well appointed and of a decent size. The view from the window was far from spectacular and consisted of air conditioning units and the dull facades of adjoining buildings. This however is where the disappointment ends as everything else was spectacular. The bed was a king size bed with a comfortable, if perhaps for some a little too firm, mattress. A small desk was located in the corner and mounted within a picture frame at the end of the bed was a large flat screen TV. ... 16/11/2012

Simply The Best There are a wealth of sites available now that offer rewards for clicking on pages, searching the web, entering contests, purchasing online, watching videos, surveys and other tasks and other ways to earn. Of the many that I have tried, far and away the best, and the least waste of time, is Swagbucks. Within a month of using the site I have genuinely already received 5 x £5 Amazon vouchers and this is through light use and not making a single online purchase. The set up is straightforward and using the site incredibly simple. You need to give basic personal details to set up an account including an email address. For this I set up a new address to use in anticipation of the huge amounts of spam I would invariably receive. To my surprise, this hasn't actually been too bad and is mostly limited to emails from sites I've signed up to. The site is fun and enjoyable to use. Other similar sites can be quite bland and usually functional and plain. Not so with Swagbucks - this is lively and entertaining and makes the site fun to use. There is a menu at the top of the screen with dropdown options for how to navigate through the pages. This includes different pages for ways to earn (which I'll come to later), setting options and other menus such as referral choices. On the home page you will find news updates and direct links to some choice new earning activities, often a link to a video to watch. Alongside this is your progress meter for how many points you've earned in a day. In ...

Argos Colour Match Manual Microwave 27/09/2012

Simple, Cheap and Effective

Argos Colour Match Manual Microwave This microwave is a bottom of the range basic microwave. It has no fancy modes or functions, is fairly rudimentary in build, design and aesthetics but it works and is cheap and simple and for those reasons, I love it. The microwave shell is black, which makes a change from the usually cheap 'white' goods and despite it's basic build it actually doesn't look that cheap and plastic-y. The edges have a very slight rounding off so it's not a hard cornered box but the effort and thought that has gone into it's appearance is minimal. The door is large and takes up 3/4 of the front of the microwave. It is very partially transparent so you can see through it but only just. On the right hand side of the front are the only 3 buttons and knobs this machine has. At the bottom is a large rectangular button for opening the door. This is flush with the surface and depresses to open. It needs quite a push to get going but works well and doesn't fling the door open like I've found other models can do, it simply releases it with a gentle ping. The other two are duals that control the temperature and the time. The temperature dial goes up to 700 and is set simply by aligning the arrow on the dial with the temperature you require - it has 5 different power settings. The timer works the same way with increments of 1 minute. Annoyingly there aren't any further increments such as 10 seconds so if you want a quick blitz, you have to guess at roughly where that time marker would be. The microwave ...

Alnwick Castle, United Kingdom 13/09/2012

Fun For Kids... Dull For Adults

Alnwick Castle, United Kingdom On a typically drizzly August bank holiday we decided to drive an hour and half to visit Alnwick Castle as friends of ours had said it was an unmissable experience. This is a phrase I had heard before and it often accompanied very missable subsequent excursions, but regardless, we took them on their word and head off. Alnwick (pronounced Anik) Castle is a grade 1 listed building having been built after the Norman Conquest and resided in by the Duke of Northumberland aka the Percy family, whose presence is felt and seen at every turn from video conversations to a littering of family photographs everywhere. The castle is steeped in a rich history ranging from it's building to keep the Scots from invading through to the Wars Of The Roses and more recently hosting battles and scenes from iconic cultural icons as Harry Potters Hogwarts and Robin Hood Prince of Thieves. The castle lies within acres and acres of sprawling and beautiful gardens that can also be seen with the purchase of an additional ticket. It was pouring with rain so we opted to see the castle only. It seems the only way to get into the castle is via a stream of gift shops: one at the entrance of the whole complex and then another in the grounds itself (although arguably for the latter we may have taken the wrong entrance). The first noticeable thing I found upon setting eyes on the castle for the first time was thinking it was actually quite small and low lying. Once inside you appreciate that this initial ...

Yum Yum Thai, London 12/09/2012

Good Food But Expensive!

Yum Yum Thai, London Yum Yum is a Thai restaurant on Stoke Newington High Street in Stoke Newington, London. It's a very large and imposing building at the end of the high street before you enter Stamford Hill. It is housed in what looks like an old official building or mansion and is equally vast and cavernous inside. It has a welcoming courtyard at the front before you enter the restaurant. This has a few tables and chairs for when weather permits and is pleasantly lit with fairy lights during the evenings. Inside, the restaurant is enormous and seemingly never ending. They also have a large bar in the basement but this was closed when we visited. You enter into a bar area with low level seating and a long bar across the side of the room. Here is also a small reception where you are politely greeted and shown your seat. We were a group of 4 going on an August Thursday night at around 9pm. We didn't book and were lucky to get a table as the restaurant was surprisingly full, especially given the large number of covers they cater for. The restaurant is dark and attempts to be atmospheric and authentically Thai with it's dark wood tables and chairs and straw table mats. Rather than atmospheric though, I found it to be incredibly loud due to the number of diners both in close proximity and not, but also the hideous music they were playing. This was barely audible over the chatter and served to make the cacophony worse. The music was futile and pointless and personally, I could have done without ...

The Brown Cow, Clitheroe 10/09/2012

You Pays For What You Gets...

The Brown Cow, Clitheroe The Brown Cow is a pub and restaurant in Chatburn, near Clitheroe in Lancashire. Given the size of the village it's surprising that it is in fact one of two pubs in the village about 50m apart. This pub for general congenial ambience and passable food is definitely the pick of the two. It's a classic looking pub and inside is relatively old fashioned still boasting a faded, patterned, bear stained carpet. The furnishings are a curious mix of old, well used tables and chairs and newer looking, brighter furniture. Some tables also have corner pew type seating that on the whole are as uncomfortable as they sound. It is largely unremarkable in appearance but is always lively with mostly locals. I've eaten there once and the menu is pretty basic and tailored for those looking for standard pub grub ranging from pies to burgers to some unappetising looking salads that look like they were fresh from the 80's. No rocket here but iceberg lettuce, tomato and cucumber with something on top. I skipped these despite being on a diet and stuck to things that are hat to get wrong - the beef burger with a pint of lager to wash it down. The first thing I'll note was the remarkable size of the portion. The burger itself was probably a 1/2 pounder beef patty on an equally impressive bun with onion rings inside. The chips were a meal for 2 in themselves. To add an element of health a meagre side salad limply sat beside this monstrous feast. So far so good for £6 - I'm used to London prices ...

Old Ideas - Leonard Cohen 07/09/2012

Len - You Need A New Producer!

Old Ideas - Leonard Cohen Leonard has never been big on upbeat so it's hardly a surprise that this, his latest offering, continues the path of maudlin songwritership making the album title, Old Ideas, apt. Little has changed with the exception of Leonard's voice getting even deeper if such a thing is possible. A handful of great songs and some dodgy production combine to make this both an intriguing and disappointing but largely good twilight album. The album is Relatively short at a mere 10 tracks ranging in length from a 2 1/2 minute standard to those 8-9 minutes in length. The overall feel is that this is a cohesive collection of songs, some better than others with Leonard in places adding an almost throw away element to his usually meticulous song craft. Melodically, most of the songs are carried by the selection of angelic backing singers countering Leonard's gravely drawl. He rarely sings, rather speaks, but you still get a sense of melody through this careful accompaniment. Instrumentation leaves space for both sets of voices and is carefully chosen in it's sparseness and never gets overindulgent or distractive. Lyrically, as one would expect, each song is fluid and poetic often unsurprisingly reflecting on the twighlight of one's life, and often failing relationships with women. Whilst tonally the songs all have a common ground, they can be a bit hit and miss. The album opens with the beautifully reflective and self deprecating 'Going Home' - 'I'd love to speak with Leonard, he's a ...

MyFitnessPal (iPhone Application) 06/09/2012

A Dieters Best friend!

MyFitnessPal (iPhone Application) This free app is a weight losers dream. I have recently embarked on a light diet and have found this tool invaluable for helping me keep track of what I eat and how many calories it contains. It's a very easy app to use and navigation is largely intuitive. The main function is to be able to keep a diary of what you eat and keep track of calories. As a starting point, it asks you various questions about yourself (age, height, etc...), your lifestyle (exercise , sedentary work, etc...) and what you hope to achieve in terms of weight loss ad over what period of time. It then works out what your daily calorie intake should be to reach that goal based on the info provided. Once you've received this horrifying info, the 'fun' really begins as the realisation you'll be eating like a rabbit over the course of the next few months dawns. The app has an easily set out diary split into 4 sections - breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. There is an exhaustive library of different foods in an easily manageable search engine. You simply type in what you've eaten and it finds it, or the nearest thing and how many calories it contains. The range includes most popular shop bought items and often includes the exact calorie count for that brand (e.g Saunsbury's steak pie). It also has estimates for home made items (e.g sausage and mash) so pretty much everything is covered. Rather niftily, there is also the option to scan the barcode of your food to get the exact calorie count. This also ...

The Albion at Boundary, London 05/09/2012

Great Food, Uninspiring Surroundings

The Albion at Boundary, London The Albion is a cafe/shop/restaurant locate on a back street behind shorditch high street in London's vibrant Shorditch. The restaurant is part of The Boundary complex owned by Terrance Conran. It specialises in breakfast and unfussy British staples such as fish and chips at other times of the day. The area isn't the nicest part of London. It's on a shabby street parallel to Shorditch High St directly behind The Sports Bar, London's grottiest strip club (so word has it... I haven't experienced it personally). The entire complex takes up the whole block and the Albion is located on the ground floor. The restaurant is decorated very sparsely and consists largely of rudimentary wooden tables and chairs. It has a warehouse feel and plays on the shabby chic style and seems as though it prides itself on the lack of glamour of it's setting. The blocky wooden tables are squeezed tightly into a narrow room leaving little room between tables. Thankfully there are large windows throughout so it doesn't feel too cramped, in fact it is airy and light in feel. The menu caters both for breakfast and also quite extensive options for lunch and dinner mostly of a hearty nature with dishes ranging from rabbit stew and game pie to kedgeree and numerous fish dishes. We went at around 3pm so weren't keen for the breakfast but opted for the fish and chips which was fairly reasonably priced at £11.50. They support local produce so accompany the meal I had a local beer that was light and ...

Radox Stimulate Shower Gel 04/09/2012

Stimulates and Refreshes

Radox Stimulate Shower Gel Radox Stimulate is a shower gel produced by Radox, Unilever, and is scented with ginseng and black pepper designed to refresh and stimulate. Although it doesn't specify, I think it's one of the more masculine in the range and largely aimed at men. The scent is not too sweet and has a good hint of pepper. It's pleasant and refreshing without being too effeminate... Or conversely too masculine with the 'Lynx Effect'. The boast is that it is a feel good fragrance and by and large it is. I'm not sure whether it actually smells of ginseng as I don't know what it smells of, but it does have a good and fresh feel to it and does stimulate to a certain extent. As with most Radox products, you are probably best off not looking at the ingredients and what has gone into it as the fresh and natural ingredients are few and far between. The back of the packaging says the product has been 'inspired by nature'... I read this as meaning nothing natural was in it. They claim they have combined natural ingredients with their fragrance to make for a refreshing experience but my hunch would be there is alot of the latter, very little of the former. The gel is a dark red in colour and striking. It is a translucent liquid that is quite runny. I think the consistency could have been a little thicker as it tends to run out of your hands very easily leading to alot of waste. The packaging is well designed and fairly slick. It has a large image of the ingredients in the middle and has simply laid ...

Majestic Hotel, Melaka 31/08/2012

Majestic Colonialism

Majestic Hotel, Melaka The Majestic Hotel is a boutique hotel in the Unesco Heritage town Malacca, Malaysia. It is located in a rather grubby part of town in less that salubrious surroundings but is a 15 minute walk from the main attractions and is a joy once inside. It sticks out like a sore thumb in the area. Surrounded by industrial buildings this 1920's mansion has been beautifully preserved and developed into a 54 room hotel and spa filled with wonderful colonial features making it a world away from what lies outside. The reception area is bright and airy and upon arrival we were greeted by the most jolly and gregarious gentleman who was most welcoming and accommodating. Upstairs is the restaurant which we unfortunately didn't eat in (although judging by the culinary state of the rest of the city, we should have... But that's another story!). Behind the reception is a beautiful lounge where you can have tea or a drink. The floor was decorated with an ornate tiling pattern, the walls were white and wooden fixtures and shutters painted an emerald green. Dark wooden chairs with wicker backing were neatly arranged around elegant tables holding a few carefully chosen reading materials. Above were classic rotating fans to keep you cool amidst the great humidity. The lounge was majestic and a wonderful entry to the hotel as a whole that maintained this theme. The rooms themselves were located in a separate newly build building mirroring the design of the original that although modern, had been ...

Stac Polly, 29-33 Dublin Street, Edinburgh 30/08/2012

One Of Edinburgh's Finest?

Stac Polly, 29-33 Dublin Street, Edinburgh Stac Polly is a Scottish restaurant in central Edinburgh, just down the hill from George St in New Town (there is also another branch in the West End on Grindlay Street). It is well regarded and considered one of the top Scottish restaurants in the city. We had a special family occasion to celebrate so booked a table for 7pm here on a Friday night in August, during festival season. Booking is usually necessary and we booked midweek a few days prior to going and there was availability for a table for 6 people. The restaurant is a Basement restaurant with stone walls. There is an upstairs area where you can sit for a drink but the main restaurant is situated in the basement. The rooms themselves are very dark due to the fact there are no windows. Light is ambient with wall mounted soft lighting and rather than candles on the tables they have small paraffin burners. These themselves prove to be something of a safety hazzard as i proved by reaching for a glass and clumsily knocking one over. No harm was done but it tumbled very easily at the slightest of knock. The tables and chairs are well build, solid wood. The main dining room had a fire place that was disappointingly unadorned and not fuctioning (perhaps for safety?). In all the restaurant is very atmospheric and felt very Scottish. Surprisingly for me, given it's a Scottish restaurant, most of the waiting staff appeared to be French rather than Scottish - this is an observation mind, rather than a criticism... Although ...
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