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since 30/11/-0001

50

A Good Year (DVD) 21/10/2006

"How far would you go to get your life back?"

A Good Year (DVD) *** This is a film only review *** A Good Year is adapted from the novel of the same name by the prolific Francophile author Peter Mayle, and embraces the essence of his writing which actively celebrates the astounding beauty of the Provencal landscape, culture and quirky inhabitants. THE MAIN CAST Russell Crowe - Max Skinner Freddie Highmore - Young Max Albert Finney - Uncle Henry Marion Cotillard - Fanny Chenal Francis Duflot - Didier Bourdon Ludivine Duflot - Isabelle Candelier Papa Duflot - Jacques Herlin Abbie Cornish - Christie Roberts Gemma - Archie Panjabi Charlie Willis - Tom Hollander Director & Producer - Ridley Scott (Gladiator, Black Hawk Down) THE PLOT "How far would you go to get your life back?" A Good Year begins with the peaceful, placid atmosphere of a rambling vineyard estate, "La Siroque", in Provence and a young boy, Max (Highmore), playing chess and chatting about wine with his affable and slightly eccentric Uncle Henry (Finney). The dappled light of a long-lost childhood soon switches place with gritty, modern day London, where a grown Max (Crowe) is a hard-nosed successful bonds trader, greedily devoted to money-making, high-speed living and fast women in an insular, superficial and soulless world. When one day he receives a letter from a Provencal notaire informing him that the beloved uncle he has long since lost touch with had passed away in testate, Max makes a small window in his busy life to travel back ...

Vallée de Mai (Seychelles) 19/09/2006

Very Naughty Nuts!!!

Vallée de Mai (Seychelles) Praslin is the second largest of the Seychelles inner islands, a beautiful sleepy isle fringed with white sandy beaches and turquoise waters. What Praslin is most famous for however, is not its award-winning beaches, but the Vallee de Mai. Situated in the heart of Praslin National Park, the Valle de Mai is one of the smallest natural UNESCO World Heritage sites. As the Seychelles are some of the oldest and most isolated islands in the world, the Vallee has remained a unique remnant of the primeval palm forest which once covered the ancient continent of Gondwanaland. Many plants here are endemic, and the area remained completely virgin forest until the 1930s, when the land was bought and "beautified", and many ornamental trees were added. These were thankfully removed when the government purchased the land in 1948, and the area was made into a nature reserve and gradually rehabilitated. When I visited here I was taking a break from a work placement on Mahe, which is a pretty laid back island. Praslin in comparison is fast asleep, and yet when I entered the Vallee de Mai, I was taken back by the sudden peacefulness. There was dead silence, the air was still and absolute serenity. Indeed, I walked for a good half hour before I came across another human being, with only a few babbling brooks interrupting the silence. There are several paths through the jungle-like valley. I started with the circular path which takes around 2 hours, and was certainly my favourite, as it ...

The Ashes - The Greatest Series (Box Set) (DVD) 20/08/2006

"Aaaaooohhw! Nice Area Shane!"

The Ashes - The Greatest Series (Box Set) (DVD) Cricket is my greatest passion in life. I have been a fan for years, and have lived through the highs and lows of each test series with the England squad. Every time the Ashes came around I always looked forward to a master class by one of the greatest cricketing forces the world has known….and England played too. That was until the spectacularly gripping series of 2005, commemorated on this DVD, when England regained the little brown urn for the first time in 18 years. The Packaging The set comprises of three DVDs encapsulated in an ungainly blue and white box, featuring the victorious England captain holding the urn on the front. Each DVD box has a cover relevant to its content - DVD 1 features Freddie Flintoff in classic starfish celebration pose; DVD 2 shows a radiant Matthew Hoggard; DVD 3 features the whole England team on the cover, fronted by Vaughan holding the Ashes urn aloft. The back of each case shows flaming stumps in front of the faces of the two captains, Michael Vaughan of England and Ricky Ponting of Australia. The Content The DVDs open straight on to the Menu which is a collage of great series moments accompanied by inspirational music. The tests are addressed day by day, and are accessible as a straight watch through, or starting from a specific opening of play. There is an average of about 90 minutes of footage per test. Each begins with a pitch report and the toss, followed by interviews with the captains, and highlights of the days play. ...

Amarula Wild Fruit Cream Liqueur 10/08/2006

Amarula Cream - The Spirit Of Africa

Amarula Wild Fruit Cream Liqueur THE ESSENCE Amarula Cream is flavoured by the fruit of the mysterious marula tree found only in sub-equatorial Africa. Many legends surround the marula tree, Sclerocarrya birrea, - they cannot be cultivated by man, so the fruit is harvested in the wild; many tribes perform traditional marriage ceremonies and fertility rites beneath its mysterious branches; the bark is eaten by expectant Venda mothers to determine the gender of their unborn child; the Zulus believe someone suffering from measles will be cured if the walk silently to a marula tree and bite its bark at the break of dawn. When ripe the fruit takes on the colour of the African sun under which it matures. When I lived in South Africa, I used to love finding freshly fallen fruit at the end of summer. They are small and ovoid with soft, smooth skins. The edible part is the flesh around the nut, which can also be ground down and the oil used for skincare, ritual and medicinal purposes. The pale flesh is juicy, sweet and deliciously tart, with a light, flowery scented flavour, and it is this character which makes Amarula Cream unique. Many animals of the African bush also enjoy the marula fruit, the most famous consumers being elephants, who charge the trees to dislodge the fruit, and munch on those already fallen which are fermenting on the ground. The herds that frequently gather around the trees, have lent their name to the "elephant tree", and become synonymous with the liqueur. Amarula Cream is made ...

Paris in general 28/07/2006

Bargains and the Best of Paris

Paris in general After writing a lengthy epic on the highlights of my trip to Rome, I've been inspired to tackle gaie Paris, focussing on the best sights, and my favourite thing - bargains. The Background: As three financially challenged students on an end-of-degree farewell trip, we tried to chose a classic cultural destination that was also affordable. However, Paris isn't cheap, and we ended up staying at the 2* Hotel Navarin Et Angleterre, in the pleasant, yet unremarkable, area of St. Georges. On arrival I was quite impressed by the freshly decorated reception, with marble floor and green velvet fittings, and the extremely polite receptionist. Squashing into the miniscule elevator, we were expelled into the mild squalor that £35 per person per night will buy you in central Paris. Due to a lack of twin rooms, two of us squashed into a slightly mouldy bed with nylon covers, which we had heaved against the wall to gain another inch of valuable floorspace. The bathroom was no bigger than a portaloo, with a shower so tiny you basically had to wear the curtain as a dress and stick one leg on the toilet. Breakfast consisted of a unvarying bread roll and hot beverage, doled out with some menace by sizeable African ladies. I wouldn't stay there again, as it was in no way value for money, but it was cheaper than other central places and served it's purpose as a handy base for sightseeing. The Top Places to go: The main sights of Paris are probably some of the best known in the ...

The Bridge On The River Kwai (DVD) 12/07/2006

The Greatest Movie Ever Made???

The Bridge On The River Kwai (DVD) Bridge On The River Kwai, made in 1957, is an outstanding film, which unlike most WWII films does not choose to take sides, giving the viewer an unique insight into both the Allied and Japanese beliefs, as well as including a strong anti-war undercurrent. The story was based on a 1952 novel "La Pont de la Riviere Kwai" by Pierre Boulle (better known for his screenplay for the Planet Of The Apes), who had been a POW in Thailand. The book won France's Prix Ste Beuve award. The film won 7 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The setting is deep in the Thai jungle, the year 1943. The film focuses on Camp 16, a few grass huts set up by the Japanese at Tamarkan, with the objective to use Allied Prisoners Of War to build a bridge over the River Kwai, part of the notorious Bangkok-Rangoon 'Death' Railway, the building of which cost the lives of 16,000 POWs and 100,000 Asian labourers. The film opens following the passage of a soaring hawk through the tropical sky, providing a birds-eye view of the vast expanses of jungle. The sounds of birds and insects give the immediate sense of heat and humidity, and the camera sweeps down to the forest floor passing freshly dug graves with crudely constructed wooden crosses. The camera comes to a halt on the infamous railway tracks as the title bursts boldly across the screen. The introduction to the harsh conditions is compounded by emaciated, ragged Allied captives toiling under the searing sun. This sets the scene for a movie which ...

Timbuk 2 Cargo Tote Medium 28/06/2006

Shine A Light On Me!

Timbuk 2 Cargo Tote Medium Why A Headlamp? The wearer of a head-torch is never going to win any style awards - in fact you end up looking like a ridiculous cross between Rambo and a Dalek. Yet, the benefits headlamps provide far outweigh any self-consciousness or ridicule they attract. The most obvious plus is that, unlike with a normal torch, you are left with both hands free, and there is no need to sandwich it between your knees or under your chin when dexterity is required. Headlamps also follow your head movements, so wherever your eyes fall is automatically illuminated. The best aspect for the outdoor adventurer or traveller is that head-torches are light, compact and remarkably simple to pack. Why Petzl? Petzl are widely believed to make the best outdoor torches at a price available to the average consumer. The founder of the company, Fernand Petzl, was a professional extreme caver, and the equipment he began to design and improve for his own use evolved into one of the world's favourite outdoor equipment companies in the 1970s. I have used several different styles of Petzl head-torch, and have found them to be consistently comfortable, long-lasting and reliable. The Petzl Tikka Plus For the last few years I have owned the Petzl Tikka Plus: Bulbs - 4 LEDs Settings - 4 (3 levels of brightness, 1 flashing) Weight - 78g (including batteries) Water resistant Articulating beam direction system Strap = The strap is made of strong elastic with a brown ...

Sibongile - Masikizolo 22/04/2006

R.I.P. Tebza

Sibongile - Masikizolo Mafikizolo are one of the frontrunners in modern South African Mzansi music, a popular young urban blend of many styles and cultures. The band are also well known in the U.S., but even though they have played gigs in London, they have yet to really break into the UK market. However, Mafikizolo are very much worth knowing wherever you are. THE BAND When this album was made, there were three members of Mafikizolo, Nhlanhla Sibongile Mafu, the lead vocalist, Theo Kgosinkwe, and Tebogo Madingoane (Tebza) who rapped some of the lyrics. Now only Nhlanhla and Theo remain, after Tebza was tragically shot dead in a road rage incident in Soweto in February 2004. Not only is their music inspired, but the band's sense of style is something else. They draw a lot of fashion inspiration from the days of Sophiatown, the unique mixed-race Johannesburg township, whose trends and fashions drew on the Al Capone era, which was demolished by the Apartheid government in the mid 1950s. The guys look extremely dapper in sharp suits and ties paired with basketball shoes, and beautiful Nhlanhla always looks fabulous in Argyll jumpers, Trilby hats and Elton John-worthy sunglasses. THE HISTORY I first heard Mafikizolo in summer of 2003, when they stormed the South African charts, with their anthemic single "Ndihamba Nawe", the second track on this album. "Sibongile", the group's fourth album, sold in droves and heralded the start of their career success, after a difficult beginning. ...

A Briefer History Of Time - Stephen Hawking 07/04/2006

It's Science Jim, But Not As We Know It!

A Briefer History Of Time - Stephen Hawking Have you ever wondered why stars are different colours, if time travel will ever be possible, or what would happen if you were sucked in to a black hole? Written by one of the most brain-worthy members of our species, Stephen Hawking, Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University, A Briefer History Of Time aims to help you to answer these questions. And, rather than the notions of boring equations and long drawn out explanations of quantum physics that I expected, this book was surprisingly entertaining, interesting and easy to understand. Penned in collaboration with physicist Leonard Mlodinow, who has written for Star Trek: The Next Generation, and has obviously mastered the art of marketing science to the masses, A Briefer History of Time is an adaptation of Hawking's best-selling A Brief History of Time, which was hailed as a "landmark of scientific writing". A Briefer History of Time is intended to make Hawking's ideas on the nature of space and time even more accessible to those of us who aren't Lucasian Professors of any sort. Not only is A Briefer History of Time, a darn site Briefer than the original, it has specifically focussed on certain popular topics which we all occasionally find ourselves pondering. Hawking explains his takes on these ideas in an easy to follow, engaging manner with simple language. THE STYLE I would describe the appearance of the book as ultra-trendy text book. It is approachably chic, with an elegant print on ...

Lagaan (Subtitled) (DVD) 20/03/2006

Once Upon A Time In India

Lagaan (Subtitled) (DVD) PLOT The film opens with a spinning coin - the head of the Empress Victoria on one side, the words "one rupee" on the other - which falls on to a map of colonial India. And so the scene is set. The narrator explains the background story immediately. The year is 1893, the place Champaner, a small, thatched farming village in the heart of India. A British colonial outpost neighbours the village, and charges the Indian Rajah of the province a lagaan (tax), in return for protection and order. Every farmer must contribute to the tax, by parting with a large portion of their harvest, leaving the people hungry and unable to resist the iron grip of the system. We join the villagers in the midst of a long drought, the crops have failed for another year, and they are distraught. Captain Russell (Paul Blackthorne), the dastardly leader of the British cantonment, challenges the Rajah to eat meat at a tea party. When the Rajah refuses on religious grounds, Russell doubles the lagaan, to support his ostentatious lifestyle. When the horrified villagers go en masse to the cantonment to complain, they are told to wait until the end of a cricket match. Russell agrees to cancel the tax if the villagers beat the Brits at a game of cricket, a game they have never even heard of. If the Indians lose, they will pay triple lagaan, and face ruin and starvation.…….. We then follow the story through a tumult of plots and sub-plots. A secret teacher from the English camp tries to help the villagers ...

Recoleta, Buenos Aires 09/03/2006

"I will return and I will be millions."

Recoleta, Buenos Aires Buenos Aires is a chic cosmopolitan city that bristles with sensual elegance - a place of smoke-filled tango halls, wide leafy boulevards and street art of a myriad of genres. The city is divided into districts, or barrios, each with an individual style and character. One of the most popular barrios for visitors is exclusive Recoleta, a thoroughly well-heeled area which fronts onto the Rio Plata. Porteños, the residents of Buenos Aires, seem to have three great passions in life - tango, football and Evita, and it is in this district, in the vast Recoleta Cemetery, that the remains of Eva Peron found their final resting place. For many people Evita is the only reason to visit Recoleta, for some the only reason to visit Buenos Aries. The popularity of this remarkable lady, still intense a half century after her death, has made the cemetery a mecca for thousands of people every day. GETTING TO RECOLETA Buenos Aires is easily negotiated by any method of transport - bus, taxi, underground train - but as most tourists stay downtown around the Centro area, the smart streets of nearby Recoleta, are most simply navigated on foot. Alternatively, all organized city tours tend to terminate outside the cemetery, due to its status as the number one tourist site in the city, and also the high concentration of quality cafés and restaurants nearby. THE CEMETERY Since its establishment in 1822, an estimated 350,000 people have been interred at La Recoleta Cemetery. The ...

Everything that starts with M ... 06/03/2006

Maurice, this one's for you buddy!!!

Everything that starts with M ... Thank you very much to the charming Beaker66 for nominating me for this one, which I believe was concocted rather well by Playgirl27. So, here we go….. **What day date and time is it?** 09:57 on 6 March 2006. **Date of birth and where born?** 05-11-1981 in Bournemouth, Dorset - Bonfire Night!!! **Height and weight** I am 5'4 1/2'' , and you should never ask a lady her weight! **Are you Married, Single got a boyfriend?** Single - I don't spend enough time in one place to put down any permanent ties. **Do you have children, if so how many?** I am definitely not a maternal type, but I do intend to share my genes with the world one day. **Do you have pets and if so what are they?** Sadly no, they've all gone to pet heaven. My last was Maurice the hamster who passed away from kidney failure in 2002. She looked a lot like Johnny Wilkinson. **If you don't have pets what one would you choose and why?** I would love a German Shepherd dog - they are beautiful, loyal, friendly beasts. I was never able to have a dog as a child as my father had a strange phobia of them. **What's your funniest childhood memory?** My main childhood memories consist of getting lost in a DIY store and my parents not noticing I was gone for quite a while, and my father sitting me next to a boiling kettle which I obviously tipped all over myself - neither of which was very funny. And, yes, social services did come a-calling. **How many nieces ...

Climbing The Mango Trees - A Memoir Of A Childhood In India - Madhur Jaffrey 22/02/2006

Climbing The Mango Trees

Climbing The Mango Trees - A Memoir Of A Childhood In India - Madhur Jaffrey Madhur Jaffrey is the undoubted world authority on Indian cuisine, as well as being a successful actress and an award-winning author of numerous cookery books. In Climbing The Mango Trees she tells the story of her childhood, growing up in a wealthy, very extended family in Delhi. Madhur dedicates her book to her grandparents for 'helping to make their grandchildren who we all are'. The majority of her reminiscences are delightful, enjoyable childhood recollections and reflections, which are a pleasure to read. There are, however, some heart-rendering moments, and running throughout the book is a very dark undertone surrounding the family's relationship to one uncle, which certainly makes poignant reading, and also shows that Madhur can portray difficult matter in a subtle and suggestive way. As well as the family tales, around which this book is principally based, a fascinating period in India's history is covered and explored through the eyes and feelings of a young girl. The book is primarily aimed at a Western audience, so all the historical references are briefly explained, as are the vast blend of cultural influences Madhur discusses, and any words in Hindi, or other local languages, which are used have bracketed English translations after them. Food is of course linked to all of Jaffrey's memories, from the school lunches brought by girls from different cultural backgrounds, to her mother overseeing cooking in the kitchen, and the changes in fruits with the ...

Foresters Arms Hotel, Mbabane 17/02/2006

A Gem In Swaziland

Foresters Arms Hotel, Mbabane This is a jewel of a small country hotel, located on a 95 hectare country estate in the mountainous scenic Highlands near the Swazi capital of Mbabane. Perennially careful with the pennies, I had originally booked a room at the City Inn in Mbabane, but when I arrived to broken windows, a dodgy looking fast food joint for a restaurant and lots of shifty looking hustle and bustle outside, I decided to give it a miss. Sleeping in your car is not the best method of personal preservation in Southern African cities, so I searched my guide book, and noticed the Forester's Arms was near. The Forester's has a good reputation around those parts, particularly for its legendary Sunday braais and roast buffets. During my all too brief one night stay, it managed to surpass my greatest expectations. Despite being slightly off the tourist trail in comparison to its popular neighbour South Africa, the small kingdom of Swaziland has much to offer visitors from interesting culture, spectacular scenery and world class accommodation. The Forester's Arms, a small, privately owned hotel, exemplifies all which Southern African hotels excel at - attentive service, exquisite rooms and magnificent cuisine. Reaching The Forester's Arms is easiest by car, as it is a short 27Km hop on a black-top road which winds up hill behind Mbabane, past pretty roadside wild flowers, idling chickens and playing children. For those without a vehicle, I would recommend taking a taxi from the capital, as public ...

Sonesta Posada del Inca San Isidro, Lima 09/02/2006

A Fumble In The Dark In Lima

Sonesta Posada del Inca San Isidro, Lima The Posada del Inca is a medium sized 4* hotel located in a deathly quiet upper class residential street in the business district of San Isidro, one of Lima's finest neighbourhoods. Surrounded by some of the most expensive real estate in the Peruvian capital, the hotel is in walking distance of the ultra-fashionable beach-side neighbouring suburb of Miraflores, and within a car ride of the decaying splendour of the colonial old town. The international airport is a 25 minute drive away, most easily undertaken in a taxi to avoid multiple bus changes. I stayed here for two nights in January 2006, on a bed and breakfast basis. FACILITIES On entering the hotel, guests are greeted by a marble decored reception area located in the centre of an unremarkable glass-fronted open plan lobby. To the left was a plain multi-purpose restaurant, and to the right a small lounge area. The décor throughout the hotel is appealing, with a colour scheme based on traditional Inca earth tones, and original local style paintings of Andean scenes bedeck the walls. The receptionist greeted us pleasantly and efficiently, and was helpful through out our stay, furnishing us with maps and assisting with directions. However, this personal service lacked a certain warmth that is such a natural part of Peruvian manner, and was so evident in other hotels in which I stayed. The atmosphere of the Posada was slightly foreboding, and could never be described as a hive of excitement. The small, yet ...
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