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since 09/03/2001


London in general 15/04/2004

Thinking about running the London Marathon

London in general Since writing this review, i am run the London Marathon again, once again for charity. The thing i have to emphasise here is that if you want to run it, you can run it, despite the difficulty in the entry system. It sounds really harsh to say but if you play charities off against each other, you have every chance. Harsh but fair - after all they will benefit to the tune of £1000+!! For my second marathon, i got a time of 3:43 - it was hard but, once again, worthwhile. You learn so much more the second time such as uphill parts of the route, strong areas of support and how to pace yourself (DO NOT GO OFF TOO QUICKLY!) At this point, i have to refer you to a book called Russell Taylor called Looniness of the Long Distance Runner (clever!). I may write an op on it so not too much detail here but it is well worth the read. very humerous account of training for and running the New York Marathon covering delights such as 'the personal nemesis' and infuriating spectators who shout 'keep going'. Talking of which, if you can't run the marathon (can't, or can't be bothered) then, at least once in your life, go to London to watch it. The atmosphere is electric and has a real feel good factor. i watched my brother run last year and enjoyed watching the pain on his face - i did, however, wish that pain had been mine as i felt quite nostalgic! Good vantage points are near Shadwell station, where you can view the runners twice during the loop round docklands. It is on Sunday in ...

Cancun (Mexico) 28/03/2004

The two sides of Cancun - make the right choice!

Cancun (Mexico) As a professional in the travel industy, i have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to visit Cancun a few times and don't hesitate in recommending the destination. There are, however, two very different sides to this rapidly growing resort and it is vital that your holiday planning is done with this in mind OVERVIEW Cancun is situated on the east coast of Mexico, lapping against the sides of thr Caribbean. Originally a small fishing village it has rapidly grown over the last 20 years and now can be only called a purpose built tourist haven. It has had its setbacks, notably hurricanes in the 1980's but building has continued and the local authorities are ever resilient. Just down the coast from the main resort, lies the Riviera Maya. a beautiful stretch of coastline which is becoming frequently invaded by new hotel builds and developing at an even faster rate than Cancun itself. The reason to differentiate is that many operators advertise both destinations under the general header of Cancun. This is because that will be the arrival airport for both. WHY GO TO CANCUN ITSELF? As mentioned, Cancun is a purpose built tourist resort anddoes not pretend to be anything else. It's tacky, it's American, it has no shame and it works. The majority of hotels are all inclusive and the ones that are room only are not featured heavily by the primary british tour operators. The british market to Cancun is growing, seen as a longhaul alternative to the mainland spain ... 18/05/2001

It's good but it's not right Aah, the immortal words of Roy Walker of Catchphrase fame. You all used to watch this programme even if you won't admit it!!! It's still on you know - oooh yes, presented by some young whippersnapper whose name know I not. has now honoured this game as one of their offerings on their gaming website and it does not disappoint. As most of other opinions on this subject have covered the basic framework of the site, I feel it is my duty to highlight this particular game: FORMAT A graphic is shown on the screen and your job is to work out what the catchphrase is judging by this graphic. For example, a bloke could come along with a paintbrush and put some red paint over a word saying town, which would obviously be 'painting the town red'. The number of players that are on the game at one time (normally about 40-60) are divided into groups of four and these are your competitors Unlike the TV show, blank spaces are put at the bottom of the page to let you know how many words and letters the catchphrase consists of. You have a time limit to type in the phrase, and the quicker you get it, the more points you get. Those who get each individual catchphrase correct, get to play the bonus catchphrase and the end of each round - a square is revealed at a time and, if you guess it immediately, beaucoup de points will come your way. When all the catchphrases have been shown (normally about 10), it is time to play the Super Catchphrase. 9 squares are shown and it ...

How to rate and comment 11/04/2001

Ditch the dunces, despatch the ditherers

How to rate and comment These are the words of the lovely Anne Robinson and I can't agree more, although these comments should me more attributed to an opinion on 'How to write opinions'. I don't feel that I can do a piece on this as, although most of my opinions are getting rated VH recently, they are not read enough and I am sure there are more qualified members to write opinions on that subject. I do, however, feel that I would like to get a few things off my chest about the rating and commenting of opinions, and believe that Ciao members fall into a few categories when it comes to this. Here are my observations: THE TRUE MEMBERS Luckily, the majority of Ciao users come into this category. They are the users who read opinions fully, rate them honestly and are decent enough to jot down a helpful comment on your carefully thought out opinion. They are reading/rating for no ulterior motive than that they are interested in what you have written and wish to give you feedback which acts as a catalyst for improved opinions in the future. This certainly helped me after my poor early efforts and is most welcome. Squidget, Modena, Weebagpuss, Connoisseur Hagler, Moose, Imogen W - these are examples of members whose comments are helpful and have inspired me to do better - there are, of course, many more. YOU SCRATCH MY BACK This concerns members who rate opinions in the hope that they will return the favour. I know we all do this to a certain extent but there is a pattern. If a member has just ...

When Harry Met Sally (DVD) 06/04/2001

Maybe I am a woman after all

When Harry Met Sally (DVD) It's supposed to be the ultimate chick-flick, a film that blokes get dragged screaming and kicking to the cinema by their wives and girlfriends. Basically, blokes aren't supposed to like When Harry met Sally or, at very most, they are meant to mumble ''It's OK''. I am happy to admit that I love this film and I always have done. It is a classic comedy and, whilst there aren't many 'laugh out loud' moments, the story makes up for this......... THE STORY Sally Albright (Meg Ryan) is driving to New York after college and has agreed to give a lift to Harry Burns (Billy Crystal) who is dating a friend of hers at a different college. Whilst driving on the long trip from Chicago, Harry tries it on with Sally who rejects his advances and says she wants to be 'just good friends' to which Harry retorts 'Men and Women can't be friends because the sex part always gets in the way'. This is a comment which is constantly referred to during the film. They bump into each other at the airport 5 years later and reveal that they didn't like each other much. They part until a further 5 years when meeting in a book shop and then decide to catch up on old times - Harry was married but his wife ran off with another man, Sally has just broken up with long time boyfriend. The story covers them getting over these relationships and gradually getting over their break ups until eventually sharing a one-night stand. They then, lie has happened to a lot of people, immediately regret this and ignore ...

Woodface - Crowded House 04/04/2001

Everywhere you go always take this album with you

Woodface - Crowded House The trailer to Crowded House's recent Best Of album had the line 'You know more of their songs than you think' and this is most definitely true. They are the type of songs that you will find yourself humming along to and then thinking 'Who sang that again?'. Many of these tracks are featured on Woodface which is arguably their greatest individual album. WHO ARE THEY Crowded House consists of three New Zealanders and one Australian. The cornerstone of the group are the Finn brothers, with the lead singer being Neil Finn. Starting in the Eighties, this group have had much success world-wide but predominantly in the UK before disbanding in the mid 1990's when Neil Finn made an attempt to go solo. Without the name of the band with him, his solo career flopped and, after a brief effort to reform the group, they split for good, although there have been rumours....... THE ALBUM Woodface contains many tracks of different moods and meanings and some are better known than others, as is the case with most albums. They are very poppy and this makes for a great album...... WEATHER WITH YOU 'Now there is a small boat made of china, it's going nowhere on the mantelpiece, do I lie like a loungeroom lizard or do I sing like a bird released?' Classic lyrics from probably the best known song on the album. I have no idea what the song is about but it is an upbeat tune. 'IT'S ONLY NATURAL' 'You can read me like a book that's falling down between your knees, please let me ...

BBC1 - The Generation Game 03/04/2001

Get this rubbish off our screens

BBC1 - The Generation Game We all know Saturday night TV has been going downhill for quite a while now, and there are no signs of it improving. The three most watchable programmes on Saturday's recently have been Popstars, WWTBAM and Match of the Day. The worst effort, for many years, is 'The Generation Game' and I can not believe that this drivel is still sanctioned by the fat controller. FORMAT There are two teams. Each team consists of two family members (normally parent and grown up child) and they battle for points against each other in a series of childish games which shows them up and the show up. For example, they would have to try some Russian dancing and, after having been shown how to do it by an expert, we have the dreadful sight of 20 stone ladies attempting to do it. The expert then rates the performance of each of the team members out of 10 and are normally very generous. The team with the best combined score after two games go through The next two teams come on and it is then exactly the same format until we have another finalist. The two winners then battle against each other to try and win the prizes on the conveyor belt. A series of prizes are briefly shown passing along the belt and the duo have to remember as many as possible in a set time limit. They can keep the ones which they remember. The programme is famous for having a 'Cuddly Toy!' as one of the prizes and the audience whoop with delight when this comes along - shut up! Please just shut up! PRESENTER There have ...

Hull in General 03/04/2001

It's grim up north

Hull in General 'The Beautiful South' - what a great name for a band and ironic, and probably sarcastic, considering a couple of them are from Hull. It is grim up north? In many places it is and Hull is quite a grim city but it does have some redeeming features: LOCATION Hull is situated in the north east of England, formerly part of Humberside and now officially in Yorkshire, It is by the North sea and in close proximity to Scarborough, Leeds, Doncaster and Bridlington. APPEARANCE Hull is not a very attractive town, in fact it is very grim in parts. Bransholme is officially the largest council estate in Europe and not a place to treat lightly (featured many times on Crimewatch UK). I made the mistake of visiting the leisure centre here in the evening and never went there again. There is also a nearby jail which has got quite a reputation and the coastal region isn't much to look at at all. A nice area of the town is Willerby ATTRACTIONS There is a fair bit to do in Hull and the surrounding area. You can visit the William Wilberforce museum - this is dedicated to the man who had much to do with the abolition of slavery and is an interesting place to visit. Visit the Humber Bridge which is the largest single suspension bridge in Europe - not very interesting to look at close up but nice to say that you have seen it. The main attraction is the nearby town of Beverley which is a beautiful little place and has some quaint shops - also make a trip to the Beverley racecourse which ...

Lemmings (PlayStation) 02/04/2001

Don't let them die

Lemmings (PlayStation) What a truly fantastic game! The person who thought up the concept should be knighted and given the freedom of London. Some of you would have heard of Lemmings, some of you won't, but the one thing for sure is that everyone who owns a playstation should plug it in now and buy this game. Let me explain it simply: IDEA Lemmings do exist. They are small animals of the rodent family who exist mainly in areas of Scandinavia. They are famous for having a reputation as creatures who allegedly commit suicide by jumping of bridges etc. This is rather a harsh reputation - they have to constantly migrate and search for food and their senses are not heightened at certain times during this search and they do often fall to their death. I suppose they are not suicidal, just stupid. The idea of the game is to navigate a series of Lemmings through certain games/courses and you have to save a certain percentage from being killed. HOW DOES IT WORK? There are a series of games and a series of levels. Up to 200 lemmings fall out of trap doors onto the platform and it is your job to guide a certain percentage of them to their home. Some will die and you will feel heartbroken but you can feel you've done your bit. This game sounds simple but wait a minute......there are holes, mountains, obstacles, rocks etc which you must navigate and any of these can easily kill you lemmings. To help you along the way, you are given a limited number of 'special skills' which you can attribute to any of ... 29/03/2001

Try this for the 90 word Ken challenge To locate any street in the UK, use You can search anywhere by town, postcode, street name, neighbourhood etc. It is useful for anywhere in UK. Detailed maps, showing easily noticeable landmarks, and can click to the side of the maps to find all streets in any direction nearby. Useful for drivers, walkers and joggers. It can be printed out easily and is shown from a birdseye view. Useful for picking out shortcuts for your route to work. Page is very quick to access and searching facility is well-explained --------------- --------------- --------------- --------------- ------------- Just to clarify, this is a deliberately short opinion in a response to a challenge to try to write a 'very helpful' article in just 90 words

Nomination Whist 29/03/2001

Whistle whilst you should be working

Nomination Whist School exchange trips to France, underage drinking, sneaky ciggie, games of cards - marvellous, eh? Yes, me and my mates used to play cards during our school days and what great fun it was too. This was until I got thrown out of the sixth form common room for a week after getting caught by Mr Hobbs, the deputy headmaster and a very scary man he was too. To be more specific, we enjoyed playing Nomination Whist, and it works likes this....... FORMAT I'm sure there are a number of formats but here is mine. There can be a number of players, ideally between 4-8, and the whole pack is dealt out to each person until they have an identical number of cards (any excess cards are left out of the game). After studying your cards, each player must nominate (hence the name of the game!) how many hands they are going to win during that round. The player who nominates the most hands then gets to choose the trump suit. For example, I get 6 cards like thus: King of Spades, 8 of spades, 2 of spades, Ace of Hearts, 4 of diamonds, Jack of Clubs. I think I can win 3 hands during the round and I get to choose trumps and I therefore choose Spades because I have 3 of them and one is a high value spade. During this opinion, I'm assuming that people know how to play trumps (sometimes known as whist) which is thoughtless of me, so briefly: Player 1 lays the ace of hearts. All other players, in clockwise order, have to lay a heart if they have one in their hand. If not, they can lay a trump ...

Sydney (Australia) 28/03/2001

Boycott Bondi Beach

Sydney (Australia) Sydney is a wonderful city - the shopping, the nightlife, the sport, the culture, the beaches - at least most of the beaches, except the most famous of them all - Bondi Beach - which I can't stand. I visited there a few years ago and there were not many redeeming features about the place that I can recall....... THE CENTRE PIECE I remember visiting there with great expectations and realised that the beach which I'd heard so much about was just round the corner. When I got there, the backdrop to the beach reminded me of a place that I had seen many times before - Brighton Beach! The architecture/hotels around the perimeter were identical and I could not believe it! Oh well, thought I, the beach and lovely sea will be a different story. I went for a dip and the Pacific Ocean certainly did look appealing, until I jumped in - it was bloody freezing - November in Australia and the water was freezing - I couldn't wait to get out. I had tried Byron Bay further North on a colder day and the water was a lovely temperature but not at the much heralded Bondi - Oh no! Despite the cold, this was not the worst feature, that glory belonged to the flies who swarmed, not over your food, but over you, or at least me because I was swamped in factor 25 sun lotion - they really did completely spoil the experience even more. THE CULTURE The nightlife around the area is fantastic - many backpackers of all cultures and nationalities rent cheap accommodation in the area and it makes for a ...

Managing My Life (My Autobiography) - Alex Ferguson 27/03/2001

The man behind the mask

Managing My Life (My Autobiography) - Alex Ferguson I am not a Manchester United fan by any means, but when my brother bought me this book as a present, who was I to say no. I picked it up immediately, intending to pretend to look at a couple of pages in good faith, but found myself engrossed and could not put it down. It really is a very good read..... CONTENT The book is very detailed indeed and covers Alex's life, from his childhood in tough, poverty ridden Glasgow, through his playing career and up to present day as the most successful manager of his generation. It covers the times of hardships, the joys, the injuries, the rejections, the comebacks, the transfers, the rows, the media - everything you would expect from a football player turned manager. STYLE Obviously Sir Alex contributed to the main facts in the book and it hasn't been written blind for him, which is the case with some biographies. Much of the book is concentrated on his early life and footballing career in a very passionate way - that is the one word I can describe the book as - passionate, and you really get an insight into his mind. I am glad it covers his early career as we know about his work at Manchester Utd, although it is interesting to hear his version of rumours whilst at united - especially the reasons why Kanchelskis left! HOW DOES HE COME ACROSS? My opinion of Sir Alex has soared since I've read this book. We all know that, albeit reluctantly, that he is a superb football manager and has shown this at Aberdeen and Manchester ...

Pizza Hut [TV Advertisement] 27/03/2001

A pizza heaven

Pizza Hut [TV Advertisement] A hard day at work, a tough 1 hour jog - what shall I have for my meal. Surely a glass of water and pasta to replenish those carbohydrates. No, I think a can of coke, a cigarette and a takeaway pizza from Pizza Hut. I used to despair that Pizza Hut did not do deliveries until that mouth-watering advert a couple of years ago, and my life changed. Now luckily I'm one of those people who don't put on weight easily but, judging my the amount of pizzas that I consume, I should do. The Edge is the pizza most commonly advertised and, personally, I'm not a big fan but it offers extra choice to all us pizza connoisseurs..... CHOICE Meat feast, Hawaiian, Supreme, Vegetarian - the choice is endless. Small, Medium, Large, deep pan, thick crust, stuffed crust, The Edge - something for everyone. Pepsi (not coke which is shocking), garlic bread, salad, chicken wings and you get my point - it is a veritable feast at The Hut. The taste is excellent - they do not hold back on the volume of the topping and it is guaranteed to fill you up. ORDERING There used to be a central number which put you through to your nearest branch, but this has been removed which is a bit of a blow, meaning you must find out the local number yourself. The order takes about 2 minutes, whilst taking your preferences, and there are various payment methods - cash, credit card, cheque and switch. The only problem is that it is difficult to understand many of the people on the other end of the phone and you have to ... 27/03/2001

Stop meddling with this site The - an excellent idea, and mostly, an excellent service which I use often but there are a few things which keep changing and which need to be sorted out...... IDEA A site where you can check availability on train routes throughout the country, check the prices on these routes and book your tickets on-line. You basically select the destination, select when you want to go, whether you want them to list the cheapest option or the fastest option and away you go. A few months ago, the site introduced a page where you could quickly check train times for any route, whether you want to book or not. - It was quick and easy to use. This is no longer included in the same way and you have to pretend you are making a booking to find out these times - you may as well phone National Rail Enquiries - I have no idea why they got rid of this option! BOOKING The booking process is simple and they guide you through it well. Lists choice of times, choice of costs, explains these costs, lists the route changes in detail and is very in-depth. You can choose seats on some routes, smoking or no-smoking, and they take a variety of credit/debit cards. SPEED OF SITE Normally, fairly quick. After you have selected your preferences, it takes about 30 seconds to bring up the search results, and then another few minutes to fill in your personal details. The site does, however, often have problems when overloaded and it will ask you to 'try again in a few minutes' if this happens ...
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