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Mulling over what to review next!

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since 27/06/2004


Dijon (France) 12/05/2011

Dijon: my former second home

Dijon (France) Introduction I have decided to write my next review about a place that I know extremely well. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to live in Dijon for a year as part of my university studies. I have therefore explored every corner of this wonderful place and want to share some of this experience with you. Dijon is the capital of the Bourgogne region of France (often referred to as Burgundy in England). Bourgogne as a region is famous in particular for mustard and wine. Indeed, Burgundy is home to some of the finest vineyards in the world and its white chardonnays and red pinot noirs are truly world class. However, somewhat bizarrely, in spite of it being the main city in the whole region, Dijon itself is not particularly laden with wine sellers. Instead, mustard tends to be the main local produce that is sold. As I will describe in more depth, later in this review, the city is an old place that has a tremendous amount of character and history. It was originally a Roman town that has grown and grown. Where is it? Dijon is situated in the east of France approximately 1 hour 50 minutes by train from Paris and 1 hour by train north of Lyon. It is situated within a few hours drive of the Swiss border and so it is geographically an easy place to incorporate into a tour of France. How to get there Getting to Dijon for a one off trip is not necessarily the easiest thing to do. Unfortunately, the city does not have an airport that is capable of receiving ...

Samsung CLP 315 11/05/2011

My Big Fat Conversion to the laser printer

Samsung CLP 315 This is my first review for quite some time so bear with me if I am a little rusty! Background to my purchase I invested in a Samsung CLP 315 around a year ago. At the time, I deliberated on whether to purchase a so-called “laser” printer like this or stick to the “inkjet” printers I have always had previously. I did a little research into the two and decided to take the plunge on a laser printer. I will come to why I decided this later. I some online searches and came across Samsung laser printers. Now I must admit, Samsung is not the first brand that I would associate with printers. I had previously always had Lexmark printers and had never seen a Samsung printer before. However, any Samsung product I have purchased previously has always been of excellent quality and value. After reading some online reviews, I went along to PC World to have a look and managed to get it for a reduced price deal that they had running at the time. Physical appearance The printer is cuboid shaped and is taller than your average inkjet printer. That being said, it’s certainly no wider. It comes in an elegant black finish. When you look down on the top of it, it has an A4 tray with an additional part that can be flipped to extend where the paper comes out. It has a basic display consisting of a round button that will manually feed paper through the machine and four colour indicators that will flash when it is low on toner. From the front, there is a Samsung logo ...

Lyon (France) 06/07/2005

Lyon- France's alternative city break.

Lyon (France) Introduction As some of you may or may not know, as part of my degree, I study an element of French language in preparation for the third year I will spend in France next year. My likely destination is Lyon and as such I decided it would be worth taking a trip to Lyon to explore what the city had to offer and get my bearings a little before I actually attended the university next year. Lyon is situated in the Rhone- Alpes region of France, which lies in the east close to the Swiss border. It is surrounded, unsurprisingly, by the Alps and is not very far away in fact from Europe's biggest mountain, Mont Blanc. It is in fact France's second biggest city residing close to St. Etienne and Geneva (in Switzerland). So I and my fiancée (who will also join me in Lyon next year) took a visit to the place. How to get there The easiest way to get to Lyon is by plane. There are direct plane services offered by Easyjet from Gatwick airport and British Airways offers direct services, however BA's flights are on the expensive side. Personally, living in Widnes (just outside Liverpool), Gatwick wasn't an option and to be honest I had to fly from Manchester airport. The best operator I found from here was KLM. The flight I took with them required a change over in Amsterdam Schipol airport. Whilst I was initially a little wary of doing a change over flight, it actually turned out to be very efficient. When you check in at Manchester airport, you are given the boarding pass not ...

Aftershock Red Cinnamon Liqueur 04/11/2004

A spirit for the new generation

Aftershock Red Cinnamon Liqueur I thought for a change I would review something slightly more unusual (well I suppose you could say the fact that I am writing a review is unusual given that I haven’t done so for a while!) Nevertheless, I decided to review what has become a favoured tipple of mine in recent months and that is Aftershock. As is probably given away by its name more than anything else, it is a spirit and one of the new ‘trendy’ drinks that are available at the moment. I was first introduced to it only a few months ago on my 18th birthday. We were having a party at my house and my dad decided to buy two bottles of Aftershock. Now I’d never actually had it before (of course I wasn’t 18 so I couldn’t drink any alcohol, ahem) so I wasn’t wholly sure what to expect. Ok, I admit, I had had some spirits before, vodka, whisky and Bacardi. Now call me a big girl but I just didn’t like them! They didn’t really seem to have much taste (though my dad informs me that you only start to like whisky once you are older and the taste buds have matured a little (I think by matured he meant deteriorated but anyway…)) So its 02.00, we have all drank too much, the Aftershock is unveiled and what a sight it is to behold. Now the inherent problem of Aftershock is the way it looks. It does not look appetising at all in my view. There are four flavours of it now. The original two, which were red and blue and now there is green and purple (which hasn’t been available for long). The colours are particularly vibrant, ...

City Of God (DVD) 03/10/2004


City Of God (DVD) This film came to me highly recommended by several different people. I have to say I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from it but was going into it with an open mind and hoping it would live up to the hype surrounding it. Now I must firstly say that this film is in Portuguese. It’s Portuguese title is in fact ‘Cidade de Deus’, which in English means ‘City of God’. The City of God is in fact a place in Rio de Janeiro. It is the most run down and crime filled place in Brazil. This is worsened by the press coverage the place gets. It is always talk of the bad aspects and never the plight of the people that live there. Therefore, the setting of the film is based around these slums and the characters that live within them. The central character of the film is called ‘Rocket’. He is a teenage boy during the time in which the film is set. The opening scene in fact starts with a group of boys chasing a chicken that has escaped and they are running through the streets of the City of God after it. Then, the Police come and poor Rocket ends up stuck in the middle of a slight stand off between the two. At this point, however, the film freezes and a voice over comes in. It is Rocket’s voice and so he is our narrator. He tells the story of the City of God as far as he can remember it or should I say since his early childhood. The first part of the flashback shows us some younger boys playing football, Rocket is one of them. Then his brother and his two friends (all of whom are older) ... 22/09/2004

Oscar standard or another Titanic? I saw on a website called Kelkoo, the other week, other websites that offered DVD rental. I was already aware of their existence but never really thought to try them out. Plus it would have meant messing round with my mum’s credit card and everything. However, due to my trusty student account and my newly acquired credit card, I decided to look into it a bit more. One of the first ones I came across was Blockbuster. I had actually seen adverts on TV for them too and they were offering a months free trial, so I though, well I may as well give it a go and see what they are like and investigate the ease of online DVD rental. One last thing before I go onto Blockbuster, is that nearly all the DVD rental sites offer free trials ranging from 2 weeks to a month. Nevertheless, Blockbuster seemed easy. The initial registration process for Blockbuster was in fact quite easy. Of course, firstly, you must access their website, which is Here it allows existing members to manage their account and new people to join. When you click to register, you first enter personal details and create a username and password. This is important as it eventually will allow you to choose the movies you want to receive. The next step of registration is to input credit card or debit card details. They accept all major cards like Visa, MasterCard and Switch/Maestro. When you sign up when the free trial offer is on, they do not charge anything to your card at all. This is merely for ...

Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand 20/09/2004

Worth the Mercury Prize?

Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand Introduction I’ve been thinking all afternoon about my next review and was totally out of ideas! However, suddenly I remembered I hadn’t written a music review in a while so I thought I may as well write one to get me back writing again. The second problem was of course choosing the album to review! Although, this was an easy choice as at the moment Franz Ferdinand has found it’s way into my CD player and not returned to it’s case a week later! The Band Some of you may never heard of Franz Ferdinand or if you have you may not know much about them and their music. Well allow me if you will to firstly introduce the band. They are a four piece band fronted by Alexander Kapranos, who also plays guitar. The other guitarist is called Nicolas McCarthy. The bassist is called Robert Hardy and finally the drummer is Paul Thomson. This is in fact their debut album and has been hugely successful in both this country and across Europe and the US. This is illustrated by the fact that their up and coming tour in Europe and the US has completely sold out. This shows just how popular Franz Ferdinand have become. Personally, I have liked what I have heard by them but for some reason never really thought to buy their album. However, I listened to someone else’s copy and realised straight away I had to have it! This album is very cool and great to listen to when you want to relax. They have also recently won the Mercury Music Prize and have had lots of nominations for the up and coming ...

Disneyland, Paris, Paris 16/09/2004

I'm not taking the Mickey!

Disneyland, Paris, Paris Introduction. This review is purely about Disneyland Resort in Paris. Now, I first went here in 1997 and since then I have returned on no less than five occasions. Each time has been brilliant and so this review is designed to give you as comprehensive an overview as possible, exploring accommodation in the Disney hotels, ease of access, of course the parks themselves and a whole lot more. Now I am fortunate enough to have visited the parks at different times of year and used different modes of transport to get to it. So here goes… Well allow me if you will, to give you a brief introduction into the Disneyland Resort Paris. It was in fact opened in 1992. Now although it has Paris in its title, do not be fooled! It is not situated in the centre and is approximately 30 minutes journey from centre of Paris and 40 minutes on a train from the centre. Nevertheless, it is the most popular tourist destination in Europe, attracting around 11 million visitors each year, which isn't wholly surprising considering France is the most popular tourist destination each year also! (About 70-75 million visitors per annum). Originally, the park opened with a selection of hotels and of course the theme park, which is called Disneyland park. In addition there is also the Disney Village that has expanded greatly since its opening. Roughly, 3 years ago, Disney opened a new theme park on the site so it is a little more like Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. The second theme park was called ...

Everything that starts with F ... 08/09/2004

Film Challenge!

Everything that starts with F ... This is a challenge I came across a couple of weeks ago and it was set by Zoe. This is a challenge about all things to do with movies. Some of you will probably have seen this already but nevertheless, here are my answers. Just one more thing, I think this is my first challenge set by another member so enjoy! What is your favourite film and why? This is one of those questions that on first look seems dead easy but in actual fact it is very difficult to actually pick a clear favourite. I would have to say that firstly it is definitely one of the films from the original Star Wars trilogy (which is out on DVD soon and I cant wait!). Now it is always hard to decide which is my favourite in these three but I’d probably have to go with the second of the three (or fifth of the six depending on how you see it), which is of course the Empire Strikes Back. The reason I have chosen this one is because it has a bit of everything for everyone. We find a criss-cross of genres like action, romance, comedy and what is fast becoming a new genre- ‘films with a twist’ (that courtesy of Mr M. Night Shamalan of course). I do not know of one person who hasn’t heard or doesn’t know of this film’s most famous line, ‘Luke, I am you father.’ This is a classic film with superb acting, a great story and in many respects it was released before its time. It is a film that has topped Greatest Movie Polls all around the world and I for one cannot wait for its imminent DVD release. Who is your ...

Dodgeball - A True Underdog Story (DVD) 07/09/2004

You wouldn't want to dodge this

Dodgeball - A True Underdog Story (DVD) I have to say I really like comedies that are a little more slapstick in their nature. Therefore when I saw the trailer for Dodgeball, I knew immediately that it was something I had to see! I also think Ben Stiller is great so the first chance I had I came to see this film and although I did have some idea as to what the film is about, I wasn’t wholly sure what I was going to get with this film. The film starts with an advert for Globo Gym. In the advert we first see Ben Stiller’s character who is called White Goodman. During the advert, we see the inside of this massive gym and its high-tech facilities. We see how Goodman believes and wants Globo Gym to be the epitome of perfection and with that the people who go there should also be in the same vein! The camera pans round and we discover that we are actually watching the film in Vince Vaughn’s house. Vaughn’s character is named Peter La Fleur. Now he owns a gym called Average’s Joes, which is pretty much the antithesis of Globo Gym i.e. poor facilities and a pretty run down building. When La Fleur goes to work, he is greeted by Kate Veatch (played by Christine Taylor who is in fact Ben Stiller’s real life wife). She tells him that the gym will close in 30 days unless he can come up with a payment of $50000. So La Fleur tells the rest of the people who either attend or work at the gym that it faces closure and they try to come up with different ways of raising the money. On of the things they try is opening up a car ...

His Dark Materials III: The Amber Spyglass - Philip Pullman 05/09/2004

Mystery solved

His Dark Materials III: The Amber Spyglass - Philip Pullman Introduction Well folks this is the third and final part of my review of His Dark Materials! I know it has been a few days coming but as I have said I realised when I came to write it that I didn’t have my copy of the book. However, now I am back and armed with my book so I can finish my review! For those of you who have not seen my first two reviews, I must first say, in case you haven’t guessed, that this book is part of a trilogy. This is the third book in this trilogy, with the first two being ‘Northern Lights’ and ‘The Subtle Knife‘. the trilogy is in fact written by Philip Pullman and came third in the BBC’s Big Read. This book was in fact published in 2000, with the other two volumes in 1995 and 1997 respectively. Once again I would like to make any apologies in advance if people feel that anything I have said in this review gives away what has already happened in the first two books. Of course, I have to give you some idea but I am talking more in respect to twists in the plot. I shall avoid these at all costs! Blurb As in all my book reviews, I firstly tell you what the books says: ‘Will is the bearer of the knife. Now, accompanied by angels, his task is to deliver that powerful, dangerous weapon to Lord Asriel- by the command of his dying father. But how can he go looking for Lord Asriel, when Lyra is gone? Only with her help can he fathom the myriad plots and intrigues that beset him. The two great powers of the many worlds are lining up for war, and ...

Tell No One - Harlan Coben 03/09/2004

I'm going to tell everyone this is a great read!

Tell No One - Harlan Coben Introduction This review is one of a book I read the other day. It came to me upon a recommendation and I thought, well I may as well give it a try. So I went on e-bay and managed to pick up a decent copy for about £2. Now to be honest, I’d never heard of this author or book much before a few weeks ago. However, after having read it, I will most definitely be reading more from this man, Harlan Coben. This story is not part of any series and is a stand-alone novel. Blurb This is what the book tells you about itself: ‘Every year Elizabeth and David Beck return to Lake Charmaine, a place that has been part of their lives ever since they were children. But on their thirteenth visit, Elizabeth is kidnapped and murdered, while David is left for dead. For the next eight years, Dr David Beck relives the horror of what happened every day of his life. Although Elizabeth has been buried, and her killer waits on death row, for David, it still feels as if more than one life ended on that night. Then an image of Elizabeth appears on his computer screen, brutally ripping open old wounds. Is it just a practical joke? Or evidence that somehow Elizabeth is still alive? Suddenly Beck is running away from his safe, ordinary life and all the people he trusts. He’s chasing a ghost whose messages hold out a desperate hope- and warn him to tell no one. But soon Dr Beck himself is being hunted down…’ Now I don’t know about you but when I read that, once I’d received my novel from ...

EasyJet - EZU 02/09/2004

Easy? You bet!

EasyJet - EZU Well this review will be constructed in two parts. Firstly, it will cover Easyjet in a more general sense, talking about it’s services and everything. I will also within this review cover my own personal experiences of Easyjet and tell you more about the quality of service I found. As you may or may not know, Easyjet were one of the very first Low-fare airlines. It led the way in changing the cost of travel to places such as Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, Nice, Amsterdam and many more. The idea of Easyjet is that it is a no-frills airline, i.e. you basically pay for a seat on a plane, there is no form of entertainment, no meals, nothing extra, just your seat. Now though this may not suit some on say a flight for two hours to say somewhere like Madrid or Barcelona, I personally find it extremely efficient. The company started out running only certain services from certain airports to certain destinations. Mainly, it started out at two airports, which were Liverpool Airport (now Liverpool John Lennon Airport) and London- Luton Airport. Over the past few years, due in part to increased competition; they have expanded the number of airports you can fly from, as well as the destinations you can fly to. Firstly it must be made clear that they do not fly from airports such as Heathrow or Manchester, simply because the use of the airport is greater and so prices would be higher. I live in Widnes, which is literally 15 minutes drive from Liverpool John Lennon Airport, so for me it is ...

His Dark Materials II: The Subtle Knife - Philip Pullman 25/08/2004

A not so Subtle improvement

His Dark Materials II: The Subtle Knife - Philip Pullman Introduction Well this is part two of three of my review of the His Dark Materials Trilogy. This review is of the second book, which is called the Subtle Knife. As those who have read my first review will already be aware, the other two books in the trilogy are called Northern Lights and the Amber Spyglass. The books were written by Philip Pullman and the series itself came third in the BBC’s Big Read. I bought this book basically because I just had to know what happened after the first one! I’m so glad I only discovered these books last year as if I’d had to wait between the real time of releases, I think I’d have gone mad! The original, Northern Lights, was published in 1995 and this one followed two years later in 1997. a quick word of warning, I’m trying to give away as little as possible about the ending of the first book so if certain parts seem ambiguous, they are deliberately so. I apologise in advance if anyone feels I have revealed something that I should not have but I’m trying! Blurb The book says the following about itself: ‘Will is twelve years old and he’s just killed a man. Now he’s on his own, on the run, determined to discover the truth about his father’s disappearance. Then Will steps through a window in the air into another world, and finds himself with a companion- a strange, savage little girl called Lyra. Like Will, she has a mission which she intends to carry out at all costs. But the world of Cittagazze is a strange and unsettling ...

His Dark Material I: Northern Lights - Philip Pullman 23/08/2004

An armoured bear, witches and Dust.

His Dark Material I: Northern Lights - Philip Pullman Introduction This review forms the first of my three-part review of the ‘His Dark Materials’ set of novels. His Dark Materials is split into three books. The first book is the one that I am reviewing now and this is called Northern Lights. The other two books are called The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. These books were written by a man called Philip Pullman. They in fact came third in the BBC’s Big Read competition and have received critical acclaim from all over the World. I first came across the novels late last year. I had some gift vouchers for WHSmith and the first instalment caught my eye so I decided to give it a go. I didn’t really know what to expect from these novels and to be honest what I in fact got was a big surprise (and a pleasant one at that.) Blurb This is in fact the first book review I have written for Ciao so I have decided to try and give all the information I can think of. This section is designed to tell you what the book says about itself. The blurb is as follows: ‘When Lyra’s friend Roger disappears, she and her dæmon, Pantalaimon, determine to find him. The ensuing quest leads them to the bleak splendour of the North, where armoured bears rule the ice and witch-queens fly through the frozen skies- and where a team of scientists is conducting experiments too horrible to be spoken about. Lyra overcomes these strange terrors, only to find something more perilous waiting for her- something with consequences which may even reach ...
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