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Renza

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Mar 2014 - Did not expect to win a prize for the current issue cafe! Thank you so much! I surprised myself by being able to produce a review that was under 1000 words ;-) x

Reviews written

since 17/01/2009

91

Your top 5 favourite films of all time 16/03/2014

What do you mean, Moulin Rouge ain't on the list?!

Your top 5 favourite films of all time I could very annoyingly and self-knowingly refer to myself as a bit of a film aficionado. I don't go a week without watching a film and my boyfriend generally leaves me to chose our film of the week (Boyfriend: 'I wouldn't even know where to start on Lovefilm!) All in all, I'm a pretty indiscriminate film viewer and I love a lot of films. And that's the problem. I'm an indiscriminate film viewer. When I started to type this up I had such an almighty panic I thought I might spontaneously combust. What are my favourite films? Aren't there a gazillion films that I love? Then I started to think. Surely it's easy? Moulin Rouge. Hands down, that's first on my list. I seemed to watch it for what seemed like every night of me being a teenager (maybe slight exaggeration there). I know every word of Elephant Love Song off by heart. But, alas, no. It's not. Which just shows how much somebody can change in 10 years... *~Blade Runner~* (1982) Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Based on Philip K Dick's book, the film tells the story of Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a 'blade runner' who is tasked to hunt down and 'retire' organic robots called 'replicants'. Set in a dystopian version of Los Angeles in 2019, it is dark and moody, encompassed in a big thick cloud of film noir that my younger self found too heavy to digest. The older I've become, the more I've grown to love this film. Each time I watch it I see something new, another way to interpret it. It raises powerful questions about ...

Lovefilm.com(film) 16/03/2014

Love film? Hate paying out for the cinema?

Lovefilm.com(film) I suppose I've always lived in a bit of a fantasy world. It helped me survive an adolescence that was a bit lonely. I got so easily absorbed in things that weren't real and went from obsession to obsession. From the age of nine I've adored Harry Potter and like so many children and I am forever disappointed that my Hogwarts letter never arrived - Left to suffer life as a blasted muggle! After discovering Potter, I came across the 'old Hollywood' world of Indiana Jones and its enthralling stories of mystical religion and powerful artefacts. I then moved on to Moulin Rouge, spending weeks watching it before and after school and annoying my parents with my own renditions of 'Elephant Love Medley'. Later on I discovered the band Queen and became particularly enchanted with their early era when they played fantastical (and fabulously camp) tunes like 'Fairy Fellers Master-Stroke'. If I wasn't watching or reading fantasy, I was listening to it. Pure escapism! So what's this got to do with Lovefilm? Well, I've never lost my love for all things fantastical. If anything, it's branched out into sci-fi and has grown more extensive and geekier. There's a wealth of fantasy and sci-fi films and TV series that I am yet to see and whole series of Doctor Who that I need to revisit. There's only so many times you can borrow DVDs from friends and only so much money you an spend on Amazon. Lovefilm is giving me the opportunity to watch things without having to buy DVDs and whole box ...

Scottish Owl Centre, Whitburn 12/10/2013

What a hoot!

Scottish Owl Centre, Whitburn Please forgive me for the somewhat clichéd, cheesy and predictable title. I just couldn't resist! I have loved owls for a number of years now. Admittedly when I was a child it was the much cooler and more popular tiger and dolphin that won equal placing as top of the leaderboard of my favourite animals. Just what could beat the majesty of the Bengal Tiger and the elegance of the Bottlenose Dolphin? Well, how about the majesty and elegance of the British Barn Owl, or, indeed, any type of owl? A number of things drew my attention to owls in my teenage years. First of all, I am a massive Harry Potter fan and you really can't ignore owls when, on screen, you've got a room and world full of them. Forget e-mail, I had always wished I could have my own owl to send mail to all of my friends. I even had a name picked out. He would be called Jasper, Jasper the Barn Owl. The more I paid attention to them the more I realised just how beautiful these wide-eyed and expressive animals are - stunning to look at and with faces full of personality to the point that, in my mind, they are anthromorphized into small feathered humans. I could never actually have an owl as a pet of course, in much the same way I am troubled by the idea of keeping any type of pet bird. When I was about 13 I used to deliver free papers every Saturday and on each morning I'd walk up the long driveway to one particular house. At the top of the drive there was an aviary and perched on top of a log was a large, ...

Foyers House, Upper Foyers 14/07/2013

A Wee Roost in the Highlands.

Foyers House, Upper Foyers As part of our summer holiday, this year my boyfriend and I decided we'd visit the Scottish Highlands for a few days and I was just as excited about our brief escapade to 'Teuchter land' as I was about our short break to Venice the week before. Despite being Scottish through and through, I've probably spent more time holidaying abroad and in England than I've spent travelling in my own home country. Apart from the odd wedding and Highland Games, when my dad competed in amateur track cycling, I'd hardly been up North and there's something very sad about that. Why spend so much time and money travelling outside the Scottish borders when I've got a beautiful, culturally rich country underneath my feet? I had decided that I would ultimately have to change that. In addition to this, I have developed a new hobby over the past year. This is a hobby which I call 'castle collecting', which is my way of referring to my slightly obsessive goal of visiting as many castles and palaces as can possibly be visited within the Northern Hemisphere. What better place to start with this quest than Castle-rific Caledonia? So armed with our Historic Scotland cards and a massive box of sandwiches, my boyfriend and I made our way up North via Perth and Pitlochry on a route that seemed to be lined with castles. We finished up our day by the bonnie banks of Loch Ness and that's where we stopped off for a couple of nights at Foyer's House... *~Self-service and nae weans!~* Heading towards ...

graze.com 05/05/2013

Graze on this!

graze.com Not long ago I stumbled upon an embarrassing video of my drunken flatmate and I ransacking our fridge and proclaiming, in high-pitched Glaswegian accents, just how shockingly 'middle-class' the contents of out fridge were on that specific occasion. There were cries of 'Channel Island Milk! Well, we have gone up in the world' and 'Organic Greek Yoghurt - Well ye' cannae have that.' There was even a wee bottle of rosé wine in the side cabinet. It was certainly a step up from the grub we had in our student days. Now, the Graze box, the product I'm about to discuss, is something I would have no doubt have mocked in my heightened drunken state and I probably would have told myself to get 'away back to Waitrose with that bollocks'. Even now, when I look at my Graze box delivery I wonder if it's really necessary. Could I not just grab an apple and a pack of raisins and get my daily healthy fix? Well, maybe but it turns out I have a weakness for this little 'middle class' indulgence... *~Who are Graze?~* Graze is a company set up by a group of friends who started making their own healthy treats when they felt the average snack was not tasty enough and quite frankly, widening their waistlines. Since before Christmas I began to get a little bit worried about the effect my own unhealthy grazing was having on my waistline. I therefore went on a health kick, swapping my lunch time sandwiches for vegetable-laden soups and I have tried my best to resist the allure of crisps and ...

Dyson DC 41 Animal 15/01/2013

For all your Mrs Doubtfire moments...

Dyson DC 41 Animal My mum has been a fan of Dyson vacuum cleaners since the machines were first brought out in the mid-1990s. She was just one of the many people who helped Mr James Dyson make his millions. I remember her trusty yellow and gray DC01 very well because she must of had it for at least 10 years before she needed a new one. And did she move on to another brand of vacuum? Nope. It just had to be another Dyson. That's the thing - once you've vacuumed with a Dyson, you don't want to use any other machine. With anything else cleaning just begins to seem like too much hard work. As a student, I made ever effort to avoid any cleaning tasks which involved vacuuming. My flatmates and I were often lumbered with crappy vacuums provided to us by landlords which were as powerful as blowing on someone's face. Even Henry the hoover's cheeky little smile could not endear me to overlook that he was a cumbersome machine which could vacuum up bugger all (albeit this specific Henry may have seen better days). Having moved in with my boyfriend over the past year, I made sure that I would do most of the cleaning jobs whilst assigning vacuuming duties to his lovely self. I would dust, I would scrub, I would mop but, without a Dyson, to hell with hoovering! I think he may have picked up on this because, close to Christmas, hints were made about me receiving a rather expensive and much desired present from my dearest parents. I spend about a month trying to guess what it was. My boyfriend was good at ...

Long Wave - Jeff Lynne 08/01/2013

Jeff Lynne works a 'strange magic' over songs from his childhood.

Long Wave - Jeff Lynne I look back on the 50s, 60s and 1970s with a sort of fake nostalgia and longing that can only come from a girl born in the 80s. I'd love to travel back to the 70s. Just give me a pair of bellbottoms and Farrah Fawcett flicks, transport me back and I'm quite sure I'd have a smashing time. Of course, my boyfriend, a wee boy growing up in the 70s tells me that this decade wasn't quite so fantastic as my own mind would imagine it. He's quick to point out its drawbacks and his dislike of those 'ridiculous' flared trousers every kid was forced to wear. Apparently, it wasn't all that good. Well, I refuse to believe that a decade which produced the likes of Queen and Electric Light Orchestra was nothing short of magical. Who cares if they had dodgy wallpaper and mad trousers? I can't imagine that the Western world will ever experience a musical revolution quite so rich and explosive as that in the 50s and 60s. From Elvis Presley to the Beatles, both sides of the Atlantic presented us with the very best of rock 'n' roll. In my eyes, a musical golden age which carried on through to the 1970s... Jeff Lynne, of the Electric Light Orchestra, grew up during this golden age, experiencing the rise of rock 'n' roll. The album is called 'Long Wave' as it uses songs which he would have heard on his dad's old transistor radio. The songs he sings are songs he had stuck in his head the past 50 years and he has stated that this album was a vehicle to get these songs out of his head. *~Sounds ...

Goblin Ha' Hotel, Gifford 15/10/2012

Spirited away to the Goblin Ha'

Goblin Ha' Hotel, Gifford If my title is anything to go by I may have been magicked away by a host of goblins to their enchanted den. Maybe whilst I was there I came across a David Bowie-esque goblin king, his package finely accentuated in his tight spandex? Perhaps we would dance the night away to the perfect 80s soundtrack enclosed in a giant bubble? Or maybe girls named Sarah should lay off the rotten bewitched peaches or hallucinogenic mind-altering drugs. Sounds like a sensible idea... Returning to the real world, I'm in a sort of piss poor situation when it comes to my days off work. I never get two consecutive days off so when the rare occasion arises that I do get some time off, I feel the need to do something. On this occasion my boyfriend and I decided to go away for a night in exotic Scotland. Spying a deal on Living Social for the Goblin Ha', at £36 for a night for bed and breakfast, it was exactly the cheap deal we were looking for! The very name of the hotel, the Goblin Ha', intrigued me enough to want to visit. It takes its name from an underground vault attached to the ruins of Yester Castle, built in the 13th century. Sir Hugo de Giffard built the castle and was known to be a warlock and necromancer. Folklore suggests that Hugo made a pact with the Devil who sent a goblin army from hell to help him build the castle and the cavernous vault of the Goblin Ha' where he supposedly practised his sorcery. Even today, the Goblin Ha' is associated with the mysterious and mystical. ...

Kraken Black Spiced Rum 23/09/2012

This Rum is Kraken!

Kraken Black Spiced Rum The Kraken - It's quite a sexy-looking beast. My bottle takes pride of place on my living room cabinet next to all of my other ornaments and knick knacks. The bottle itself is quite unique and interesting. With its classy black and white colour scheme, it has a vintage-style label with the mythical kraken creature emblazoned on the front and a liquid inside as black as squid ink. Even more distinguishing is the brand name embossed in the glass and the two glass loops on the neck of the bottle. Inserting my fingers through this double-handled bottle makes me feel like I'm brandishing a rum-filled trophy steering me on to the path of tipsiness... You could so easily be seduced by the Kraken's bottle design and branding. However, I was seduced by its flavour. When I first tried it you could almost call it a blind taste test. I was on a drunken night out with one of my closest friends and she encouraged me to order a Kraken and coke. Admittedly, drinking a drink with the name of the beast that took down Captain Jack in Pirates of the Caribbean 2 seemed quite appealing. However, it was the taste of the drink that made me fall in love with it and I may have ordered one too many Kraken and cokes on that drink-fuelled night... *~Put a Beast In Your Belly~* Now I'm no spirits connoisseur. Every spirit I have has to go with a mixer as the strong taste of concentrated alcohol is too much for me (I know, what a wuss). This no doubt means that I miss out on the subtleties of flavours ...

Universal Studios 19/09/2012

The Second Happiest Place on Earth (or maybe the third or fourth)

Universal Studios I'll begin by excusing my absence in the world of reviewing over the past few months. Much of it was spent working dreaded sixty hour weeks in order to fund the 'trip of a life time' for my boyfriend and me. And when I wasn't working my arse off I was spending whatever precious free time I had left over planning for said trip... A visit to Universal Studios, Florida had long been an ambition of mine ever since my gran went there in the 90s. She had told me at length about some of the rides. One in particular caught my imagination: 'The E.T Adventure'. She said that when she entered the attraction she was asked her name by one of the ride assistants. 'Roberta', the man repeated back to her, 'That's a very SCAT-ish name' (Oh, I do love it when Americans treat us Scots like a novelty). She told me that the ride itself involved sitting on a bike and flying through the night sky, just as Elliott does in the film, over tree tops and teenie tiny little buildings. She described her astonishment as the ride neared its end and a life-sized E.T thanked her and each rider individually by name (hence why she was asked her name before she went on the ride). It all sounded very fantastical to my nine year old self. I would just have to go to this place one day... Back in the summer of 2009 I worked at a Girl Scout camp in Ohio. Well, I would hardly call it work. It was a hell of a lot of fun, I made some new friends and when I was done being camp counsellor I spent two weeks touring the ...

The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England - Ian Mortimer 26/04/2012

A Travel Guide to rival Lonely Planet...

The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England - Ian Mortimer ‘The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.’ After studying history at university I was all too familiar with L.P Hartley’s over-used and exhausted citation. And what a shame it is that there are no Easyjet flights to the Summer of Love of ’69, no package holidays to Victorian London and no long-haul expeditions to Ancient Egypt. Nevertheless, Ian Mortimer does the best he can do in the absence of a Time Lord travel agency as he endeavours to take his readers on a journey back to a time long gone. And you won’t need your sunglasses, flip-flops and itsy-bitsy bikinis for this trip. In fact, a young woman such as a myself may fare better with a wimple, a husband of good standing and a newly adopted coy attitude. This is 14th century England after all… *~Living, breathing history~* If you had asked what life was like for a medieval yeoman, my mind would have been cast back to a few of the dull and uninspiring lectures which I endured in social and economic history (otherwise a thoroughly engaging area of history). These were lectures which detailed statistics of grain yields, population figures and agricultural methods. ‘Help! Help! I’m being repressed.’ Monty Python’s ‘The Holy Grail’ may have had more to do with modern parody than history but at least they breathed some sort of life and colour into their peasant characters. In my historical studies, a medieval serf often seemed to be no more than a statistic – something that was born, sowed the land, ...

Dear Fatty - Dawn French 16/03/2012

She snogged Richard Armitage, I'll have you know!

Dear Fatty - Dawn French Dear ‘Moo’ French, Forgive me for my informality in addressing you in such a manner. You don’t know me and I really don’t know you (as revealing as your autobiography may be). However, I use this informality knowing just how splendid a day we could have together, breaking down the walls of formality to become splendid chums. I mean, I’m not nearly as witty as some of your comedy friends but I’m quite nice. However, a lot of the stuff I do is unintentionally funny so you’d have some great material right there. I was thinking we could test-run the ‘chum’ things with a spot of afternoon tea somewhere, with doilies and the works. You see, I’m not your usual fan. I won’t be chirping ‘More tea, vicar’ at every opportunity. In fact, if any cheeky waiter or passer by does try this one on you I promise I will beat them with a stick. See, that’s the sort of chum I am… And if the age difference makes the chum thing a bit awkward maybe you could just be my second mum. You seem to be awfully good at it. Not that there’s anything wrong with my mum – she’s a star, just not of the red carpet and comedy circuit variety. But you could definitely have a go at being my mum too (you’ve got some stiff competition though, I might add). I reckon you’d be amazing at cheering me up when I’m down. You look like you’d provide some top quality huggage, even if you’ve lost quite a lot of your motherly bosom as of late with your amazing weight lose. When I’m really down you could just give me some in ...

The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins 05/02/2012

This will have you hungering for more.

The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins ‘1984’, ‘Brave New World’, ‘V for Vendetta’, ‘A Clockwork Orange’ and now ‘The Hunger Games’. I am fascinated by novels which present a vision of a dystopian society. ‘The Hunger Games’ presents a post-apocalyptic vision of a North America, tainted by humanity’s past mistakes, it is little like North America as we know it. Divided into 12 districts, it forms the land of Panem and is ruled by an oppressive government called the Capitol. The ultra-futuristic Capitol is a despotic seat of power and indulgence. Whilst the Capitol residents fuss over their lives of luxury and up and coming fashions, citizens within the districts work hard and struggle to get by, some dying of starvation in the streets. To add to their suffering, each year the Capitol holds its annual ‘Hunger Games’, a reminder of the prevailing power of the Capitol after the districts rebelled against them many generations ago. Each district must put forward two ‘tributes’, a boy and a girl aged between 12 and 18 to fight to the death within the Hunger Games arena. In true ‘Big Brother’ fashion, the games are broadcast live to every part of the state for everyone to see. There can only be one winner, who shall be renowned throughout Panem for their victory. The losers, however, can only face one eventuality – death. ‘The Hunger Games’ caught my attention last year when I heard that this bestselling book was to be adapted into a film to be released this coming March. I heard great things about it and there seemed ...

Review of 2011 14/01/2012

A damp squib of a year.

Review of 2011 2011 was one of those years that started with a bang and quickly fizzled out like a damp squib. I’ve held off writing about it because it means coming to terms with the fact that it was a rather disappointing year and I really didn’t want to bore you with my ordinary life. Fresh from graduating from university, 2010 was rich with expectation, discovery and hope. No longer burdened by the constraints of study, I found myself on a free rein. I could go on trips with my flatmates, make new friends on nights out and indulge in my hobbies, revisiting my love of art and music. At the start of 2011, I had to deal with my gran’s sad death from cancer in January but I did not let this dampen my excitement for life. At the post-funeral gathering in our local pub, I watched all sides of the family get steadily drunker as they toasted my gran’s life. I also got all those awkward questions from aunties, uncles and second cousins – ‘You got yourself a boyfriend yet?’ ‘Still working at Tesco are we?’ So what are you hoping to do with your degree…?’ I can say that I answered all these questions quite cheerfully – I highly doubt you’d get the same response out of me now. 2011 wasn’t necessarily a terrible year for me. I wouldn’t call it my ‘annus horribilis’. However, it does take some degree of optimism to think positively about it all. The first heart of the year was great but it was during the second half of the year that I began to lose faith in myself and with the rest of my life, ...

The Secret Of Monkey Island: Special Edition (PC) 02/01/2012

A bucketful of nostalgia and a bottle of rum!

The Secret Of Monkey Island: Special Edition (PC) I enjoy reflecting upon my experiences with my Granny Molly. She died when I was only eight years old but I have beautiful memories of her tucking me up in bed and telling me brilliant stories about living in wartime Glasgow and the day she was saved by a bowl of porridge (true story). Thinking about her bedtime stories fills me up with a warmth and sentimentality. The Monkey Island game series transports me back to a similarly innocent and cosy place. It summons up within me a warm nostalgia that goes beyond Pokemon cards, Tamagochis and any other tat that I accumulated during my 90s childhood. When I was a little girl, maybe about five or six years old, I remember sitting on my dad’s knee watching him play the terribly grown up game of ‘Monkey Island 2: Le Chuck’s Revenge.’ By today’s standards the graphics were quite primitive and pixelated but even so it was pretty to look at. I was mesmerized by it, particularly its detailed close-ups of its characters and its interesting cut-scenes. Sometimes I would try to help my dad solve the puzzles but it was clear that it was above and beyond my five year old intellect. I therefore contented myself by letting my dad work out the game, watching the action play out and meeting all those weird and wonderful characters which Guybrush came across. Through Monkey Island I got to be close to my dad and I was introduced to a fantastical world of pirates and adventure. ‘The Secret of Monkey Island’ was released by Lucasarts in 1990 and ...
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