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If my reviews entertain, amuse or brighten your moment in any way, then my task is done! ++ COT looking very depleted having deleted those who have not logged in this year. ++

Reviews written

since 20/06/2004


Stanmer House, Brighton 29/09/2014


Stanmer House, Brighton WHERE IN THE WORLD? Here in Brighton, before joining Hove and becoming a city in the year 2000, it used to be said that you could eat out at a different venue every night of the year. We know that there are now over 400 restaurants in the city, I am not going to claim that we have tried more than a tiny handful, we are, after all, choosy where we spend our hard earned cash on eating out and usually manage to avoid the bad and the indifferent……sometimes though, when a third party has their mid set on somewhere and is insisting on paying the bill, one ends up, possibly against one’s better judgement, somewhere that you would not choose to foot the bill yourself. We are still within the borough boundary, but not as you would recognise it. Stanmer House is located in the idyllic village of Stanmer, surrounded in its’ own park. Beyond the park is the Sussex University Campus and, on the opposite side of the A27, the marvellous, new, AMEX Stadium. The old, Grade 1 listed manor house at Stanmer, dating originally from 1722, had fallen into disuse, and after a decade of decay was not only a sorry site, but a great lost opportunity of an asset to this vibrant city. As a lifelong Brightonion and lover of Stanmer Park, I was delighted to see this lovely house put back into use in a capacity that meant the public could enjoy it. For that we have to thank a local entrepreneur who, in 2004 invested in it. Stanmer House is now part of the Whiting & Hammond pub chain who run it as a pub ...

Bad Bridesmaid 22/09/2014


Bad Bridesmaid I rarely review television programmes, mostly because I have a fairly low opinion of the quality of the majority of broadcast output and actually watch very little TV. You therefore know that if I am moved to review a programme I have been grabbed by it, no matter, in this case, how obscure that programme may turn out to be. The very fact that I am about to review “Bad Bridesmaid” may well tell you more about my sense of humour than the quality of this particular TV show. The fact that I watched the last twenty minutes of repeated episode 1 last Sunday evening, totally by accident, may also tell you how interested I was in this programme, having seen it trailered previously on the ITV channels…….so hold on, you may be in for a bumpy ride, certainly the brides and their best friends are in this series! WHEN & WHERE CAN I SEE THIS? Bad Bridesmaid is broadcast on Thursday evenings at 9.00pm on ITV2 (Freeview 6, Freesat 113, Sky 118, Virgin 115) and repeated at 10.00pm the following Sunday evening. This is not really the programme to watch with your gran after Sunday service, being quite deliberately broadcast after the watershed - don’t want to give the little ones ideas or nightmares. It has not been edited for language, which does tend to become increasingly blue as events unfold. The first episode was broadcast on Thursday 11th September, this being the one that hooked me on this series. SUNDAY NIGHT IN THE RICHADA HOUSEHOLD.…. …..Mrs R is downstairs preparing for ...

Osso Buco, Weybridge 16/09/2014


Osso Buco, Weybridge WHERE IN THE WORLD? Within the 116.8 mile circumference of the M25 there are, reportedly, some 327,423 restaurants, surely one of the highest concentrations of eateries in the world. Not being a lover of London, and having a great choice of places in which to eat out right here in Brighton, I can count on my fingers the number of times within the last ten years that we have eaten within that 116.8 mile radius and it has taken some pretty special occasions (a Ciao meet on one!) to induce us to do so. Why then, were we in Weybridge, of all places, for my 52nd birthday? We chose to spend the day at the nearby, excellent, Brooklands museum. For those of you unfamiliar with the south eastern extremities of our capital, you will find Weybridge roughly eight miles south of the M4 and Heathrow Airport, about five minutes from Junction 11 of the aforementioned M25. LOCATION & ACCESSIBILITY: 13 / 15 Osso Buco is located on the main A317, Church Street, almost next to the library, opposite the community hospital, right in Weybridge town centre. Whilst there is on street parking, this is only for an hour. Very conveniently there is a large pay and display car park immediately behind the restaurant – we paid just 70p for one hours parking, after 6.00pm it is free. Better still, there are bus stops on either side of the road, right outside the restaurant – for the sake of locals, buses: 451, 459, 461, 462 and 637 stop there. Weybridge is not on the London Underground system and it ...

Maserati Ghibli 3.0D V6 12/08/2014


Maserati Ghibli 3.0D V6 PREAMBLE Knowing how passionate Italian car enthusiasts can be, and having fallen foul of a vociferous, if small, hard core of Alfa Romeo enthusiasts through my reviews here in the past, I would like to reiterate that this is a Consumer Opinion site and that the following review represents my own personal impressions of this rather unusual motor car. Furthermore, I would point out here that the whole purpose of my standard car review format is to present as dispassionate an opinion as I can, the format having been originally designed to make it possible to make direct comparisons between cars of all sizes and prices. Whilst, at £50,000, this Maserati Ghibli is far from the most expensive car that I have reviewed, it is, by nature, of all of them, quite probably the one that most stirs the emotions – or so Fiat’s, proprietor of Maserati, public relations people would want me to believe. WHAT IS IT? Launched on the UK market in the spring of 2014, the four door saloon, Ghibli is a brave new departure for Maserati as Fiat uses it as a weapon to attempt to muscle in on the highly lucrative executive car marketplace, defined, almost, by the 5 Series BMW. This is a highly talented market sector, populated by such well-established models as the Audi A6, the ubiquitous, and for good reason, BMW 5 Series, the exceptionally good Jaguar XF, the traditionalists E Class Mercedes and some left-field entries from the likes of Infiniti, Lexus and even Volvo. Some would offer an argument ...

Shutterly Fabulous 25/07/2014


Shutterly Fabulous THE CONCEPT Fashionable for some time now, window shutters (sometimes referred to as plantation shutters) are widely available from a range of sources – just Google window shutters (as I initially did) and you will quickly see that this is a highly competitive home improvement market. Window shutters, as discussed here, are an interior window “dressing”, usually used as an alternative to curtains, blinds or nets, although can actually be used as an addition to each of the above according to taste. Having now totally refurbished our house, we were left with making decisions about the very last room, our former spare bedroom. This room had always served a multi-purpose role; it had been the second bedroom come study, come “junk” room. Having added two extra, larger, bedrooms in the conversion of our bungalow to a house, this room had been left without a clear purpose. The most sensible thing appeared to be to turn it into a library come study, containing all of our books, music and DVD collections and then add a bed settee for very occasional overnight use – should the need ever arise. With shelving for books and CD’s etc being constructed, it left a much narrower scope for curtaining the large window – which looks out onto the side of the neighbouring bungalow – in truth the least attractive outlook from any window in the house. What to do? Well, this particular window so obviously lends itself to shuttering that we are amazed that we had not thought of it before – but ...

KIA Rio 1.4 CVVT (since 2012) 08/06/2014

KIA's RIO to the power of 3

KIA Rio 1.4 CVVT (since 2012) WHAT IS IT? The Rio is Kia’s alternative to the Ford Fiesta – the archetypal supermini. Available in two and three door variants, the Rio competes for sales in one of the largest selling vehicle segments world wide currently. Looking rather different, but very closely related, to the Hyundai i20, which I have previously reviewed in (superb) 1.1 diesel form, and the less agreeable 1.2 petrol, this is my first outing in a Rio. WILL IT FIT YOUR GARAGE? Obviously without knowing the specifics of your garage, a difficult one to answer! It should do. Superminis are so very popular because of their compact dimensions, but, at just over 4 metres in length (4045mm), the Rio is pushing the supermini boundaries in terms of length. A current model Ford Fiesta measures 3950mm, whilst a Vauxhall Corsa at 3999mm just stays under that psychological 4M mark. In terms of width, although it does not feel so from the drivers’ seat, the 1720mm (door mirrors folded in!) Rio is class competitive. WHICH SPECIFIC MODEL? The model that I am reviewing here is the petrol powered £13,395 Kia Rio 3, 1.4 3 Door. This is pretty much top of the range as far as a 3 door Rio is concerned, being both the most powerful and well equipped version. The Kia Rio range starts at £9,395 for a 1.25 litre (petrol) 3 door 1 model, and tops out at £15.595 for a fully loaded 1.4 CRDi (diesel) 4, 4 door. 1, 3, 4? What’s that all about? Actually it is a quite novel, yet simple, way of determining the equipment ...

KiWAV ABEO HDVR-180C 05/04/2014


KiWAV ABEO HDVR-180C WHAT EXACTLY IS AN HDVR & WHY WOULD I NEED ONE? As this is a whole new product category for Ciao – I was amazed not to find any car cameras listed when proposing this subject - it seems sensible to start this review from the stance of a total newcomer to the world of HDVR, at least in vehicular terms, and explain what one is and does – before reviewing the specific device that, after weeks of research, I went on to purchase. HDVR = High Definition Vehicle Recorder. OK, fine, what on earth is one of those? Referred to by some – including insurance companies – as a black box driving recorder, it is a device of varying complexity, which, as a bare minimum, records video footage as you drive. All of these devices that I have been researching also overlay that video with a time and date stamp – very much as your hand held video camera, or indeed camera phone does. Beyond that is where it all gets a bit complicated as various levels of better camera definition and ever more features come into play. Before choosing the ideal device, it is important to consider carefully what you expect from such a video recorder: Are you looking merely to protect yourself from some of the well known highway robbery scams? The two most common are “flash for cash” where someone flashes their headlights indicating for you to go, then deliberately crashes into you, claiming that you hit them – or the even older one where you are overtaken, only for the miscreant to slam on their brakes, usually ...

I Set the World Record For... 03/04/2014


Swallow Bower Hotel, Oldham, England 06/01/2014


Polish Grocery, Brighton 05/01/2014


Polish Grocery, Brighton STILL THERE AFTER "ALL" THESE YEARS Such is the rapid passage of time that I can hardly believe that this review was first published over trwo and a half years ago. One may well laugh at the above sub-title, but, since the opening of this particular Polish Shop, several have opened and subsequently closed in Brighton. So, this one has stood the test of time which, hopefully, stands as testament to my initial decision to review it. Time has moved on and the clientelle has changed slightly, Mr Patisson has moved with the times and has now expanded to include produce from other eastern European countries, primarily The Ukraine. Having taken over most of the shop next door, the whole shop is more spacious and easier to navigate your way around - especially at traditionally busy holiday periods such as Christmas and, even more importantly to the Poles, Easter. The body of the review remains as originally published, there is now, in 2014, more emphasis on groceries and less on the Cafe thgan in 2011, apart from that the owners original formula has proved a remarkably successful one. SATISFYING RICHADA'S GORMET TASTES AT MR PATISSON THE POLISH CAFÉ GROGERY NO 12 LTD As those who have read some of my older, Polish, reviews will know, I have something of a passion for the best of Polish food – particularly meat and vegetables, I have also on occasion, been known to enjoy Polish spirit – vodka – too. During the early years of the current century the only place to enjoy Polish ...

Model Farm B&B, Bradford 09/08/2013


Model Farm B&B, Bradford WHY DID WE BOOK THE MODEL FARM B&B BRADFORD? The Leeds / Bradford area is not regarded as my usual stomping ground. We have few customers here and, until last month, had no cause to actually stay in this part of the country. You can therefore thank (blame possibly?) Mrs R for the rest of this review! We travelled to the area to view two online bedding shops – both selling “unique to them” beds. The man at Time4sleep in Huddersfield was impressed that we had gone to the effort, but still thought us mad travelling over 250 miles to look at a bed, in the event, we never reached the Bradford store – lucky first time! In truth, we both needed a break from our very busy schedules – fancied visiting somewhere that we had not been to before, and used the beds as an excuse to finish up here in West Yorkshire. Having spent a week looking at accommodation on line, only Model Farm and another, rather posher looking, hotel near Huddersfield, appealed – we tossed a coin and Model Farm B&B it was! HOTEL DESCRIPTION / OUR PERCEPTION FROM HOTEL PUBLICITY I should state here that Model Farm is a B&B, not a hotel. Strangely mixed messages coming out on this one. There were many reviews online, mostly highly complementary, and then there were some more concerning ones saying that the place was fit only for “contractors” working in the area. The B&B also market themselves as having “long term guests” and being ideally suited to contractors, this being a little at odds with the photographs ...

Hyundai i30 1.6 CRDi Tourer Active 02/08/2013


Hyundai i30 1.6 CRDi Tourer Active WHAT IS IT? The i30 Tourer is Hyundai’s highly competent model in the hotly contested “Focus Estate” class – a market sector pretty much dominated by the company car (fleet) favourite Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra models. This is an increasingly lucrative market as the trend now is to downsize from larger cars, the versatility of a five door estate – sorry “Tourer” more often than not these days – being an attractive draw in the family / business car market place. Based on the latest, very attractive, Hyundai i30 hatchback, the five door Tourer shares that cars engine and trim levels. Swoopy and modern as its styling is, the i30 Tourer, on the market since summer 2012 and built at Hyundai’s factory in the Czech Republic, is entirely conventional under the skin. That means front wheel drive, a range of diesel and petrol engines from 1.4 to 2 litres and a choice of automatic and five or six speed manual gearboxes. WILL IT FIT YOUR GARAGE? Obviously without knowing the specifics of your garage, a difficult one to answer! The i30 Tourer is a compact 4485mm long and 1780mm wide – although it feels wider from the driver’s seat! By comparison latest model Astra and Focus Estates are 4698x2013 and 4556x2010 respectively, those bigger width dimensions including the door mirrors incidentally.. WHICH SPECIFIC MODEL? The model that I am reviewing here is the £19,765 Hyundai i30 Tourer 1.6CRDi Active. The range spans from £16,305 for the petrol Classic model, to £24.225 for the ...

Everything that starts with D ... 28/07/2013


Business Hotel Artes, Chemnitz 22/06/2013


Business Hotel Artes, Chemnitz WHY DID WE BOOK THE BUSINESS HOTEL-ARTES IN CHEMNITZ? Not a great start here, this was a ‘panic purchase’ made way back in February for an overnight stay in early June. I have previously reviewed our usual Chemnitz hotel – the Amber, so good is that one that we do not look elsewhere for a place to stay overnight on our way home from Poland. This year though we were forced to book elsewhere, the 103 room Amber Hotel was fully booked – this one, just up the road, was not. The Artes had encouraging reviews, looked similar in style to the Amber, offered free car parking and Wi-Fi, but, more importantly was where we wanted to stay the night and, after all, it was just the one night that we wanted to stay. HOTEL DESCRIPTION / OUR PERCEPTION FROM HOTEL PUBLICITY Uber-modern, clean Germanic in style, the “Artes” aspect of this hotel actually escaped me on the several websites that I looked at prior to booking. What did make me a touch nervy about booking this hotel was that there were no exterior photographs of it at all online. Never a good sign that. How well we remember turning up at a Swiss hotel only to find a railway viaduct running right over the top of it…….we reassured ourselves that there was no railway nearby prior to booking this one! All the facilities we require in an overnight stay hotel were advertised as being present here – after a full days’, high speed driving, I do not always feel like seeking out somewhere else to eat, therefore restaurant facilities are ...

Park Historycznyb, Blizna 06/06/2013


Park Historycznyb, Blizna RICHADA AND THE ROCKETS I suspect there will be remarkably few reading this who actually experienced the terror of Hitler’s ultimate weapons of war, the V1, flying bomb and V2 rockets which rained down on the population of London during the closing months of the Second World War. My own experience is a directly second hand one, my mother’s parents - having refused to evacuate their children from the capital during the war – were to inadvertently subject their young family to the terror of the Nazi rocket attacks. That, remember, after years of Luftwaffe bombing had already taken its toll on the population. Whilst even that cannot compare to the atrocities that took place in Eastern Europe at the same time, for many Londoners who survived the Blitz, it will remain, until their dying day, an unavoidably powerful and painful memory. Whilst, thanks to our visit to this museum, I am now aware that the British authorities of the day were well aware of Hitler’s secret weapons, the general populace were not. The first, devastating explosions caused by the V1 and V2, un-manned flying bomb and rockets must have been a shocking and surprising experience – especially in the case of the 13 tonne V2 rocket which hurtled into the ground at 1790mph – well above the speed of sound, the sound of their approach being heard moments AFTER the shattering explosion. According to my mother, who well remembers both weapons dropping on London, the V1 was actually more frightening as the innocents ...
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