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since 11/07/2001


Peugeot 306 1.4 17/06/2011

Peugeot 306, 2 lady owners, good runner....

Peugeot 306 1.4 When my wife passed her test we wanted to get a basic runaround, something not too fancy that we wouldn't mind if it got a few bumps or scrapes along the way. One of my wife's friends was selling her Peugeot, so we picked this up. We paid £750 which at the time I thought was a bit steep considering it had done 90000 miles and only had 1 month until the MOT, but my wife had fallen for 'Peewee' the Peugeot so we added him to our family. The first thing that struck me about driving this car was that the experience was very different from the big motorway cruisers I was used to. The whole thing feels very mechanical, there's a tangible 'clunk' when you change gear, the revs move instantly when your feet move on the pedal, and you can feel the vibration through the steering wheel when you brake. This is a real back to basics car, but the truth is it's much more fun to drive because of it! If you're on a twisty road and you want to have a bit of fun it's much easier to do it in this car than it is in mine. Although the engine is quite limited at just 1.4 litres, it's quite revvy and as long as you're not doing motorway speeds there's plenty of zip. Not bad considering the mileage, and after we'd had the oil changed it got even better! On a more serious note when we had the really bad snow and ice last November I was really struggling to get around in my car. I lost the back end a couple of times and had given up on anything other than essential journeys. However, my wife's ...

Renault Megane 1.6 16v VVT Hatchback 10/06/2011

If it ain't broke, don't try and fix it!

Renault Megane 1.6 16v VVT Hatchback Every year for the last three years I've told everyone who will listen that I'm getting rid of my car. Every MOT I say this will be the last. And yet I still have this car. Why? The simple answer is that there's nothing wrong with it.  Nothing to justify getting a loan and upgrading. Yes it's ugly, yes it's got an image problem, but it gets me from a to b, never breaks down, and gives me an mpg of over 40 , which for an 11 year old petrol automatic is amazing! The plus points are firstly the engine. This is a 1.6 16v engine, and it's superb. It's very responsive, gives power when you need it, yet is so quiet at low speeds you have to check if it's switched on! All that and with a brilliant 40+mpg. I can't say enough about how good this engine is, its really is a belter.  Unfortunately the rest of the car is not so good. The interior whilst comfortable is very average. The look of the car is very dull and uninspiring (mine's the saloon version). The kids have even christened it 'old man car' because it looks like an old man should drive it - not good for the man points! The boot space is quite good, and mine came with a really good CD changer too. It's also got all the mod cons such as air con, electric mirrors, and a sunroof, which all work really well.  The worst thing about this car though is the suspension.  The settings are way too soft and there's so much body roll that you can't get a decent feel through the steering. It's such a shame as the engine is so lively that ...

Audi R8 4.2 quattro 01/06/2011

They're grrrrrrrrR8 !!!!

Audi R8 4.2 quattro When I was about 7 the thing I wanted the most in the world was a Mazda RX7. I had posters, drawings, magazine articles, brochures, anything I could get my hands on - I was smitten! If I was 7 now then I think the only car that could have the same effect on me would be the Audi R8. From it's looks to what's under the bonnet, this is every inch an iconic supercar. So, when I got a voucher for a supercar experience it wasn't the Ferrari or the Lamborghini that I went for, it had to be the R8. Most people didn't agree or didn't understand, but for me it was an easy choice.  I could tell you about the Lamborghini chassis or the 4.2 ltr engine, but once you've sat inside one of these magnificent cars all the statistics and tech specs go out of the window, replaced by an ear to ear smile. The drivers position feels amazing, just the right proportion, the steering wheel with it's part circle part straight bar is perfect, and you're just itching to set off! The first part that hits you when you fire up the ignition is the growl of the engine, refined but clearly very powerful, and you feel completely in control of it. The fact that the engine is just behind you, with no back seats just a long shelf, adds to the feeling that you need to be facing forward, ready for the road ahead! Once driving the car is very smooth and easy to control. Under the encouragement of the instructor I got to floor the throttle through some tight corners and the response was just amazing. You can ...

Armani Emporio Remix For Him Eau de Toilette 29/05/2011

Remix for men by Armani

Armani Emporio Remix For Him Eau de Toilette Like most blokes I rely on Christmas for all my smellies, and this was no exception. I hadn't smelt this before and I was pleasantly surprised, I've had Armani fragrances before and they can be quite strong but this is much lighter. I decided that this was more of a casual daytime scent, but of course this is subjective. I was also pleased at how long the fragrance lasted for. The bottle/can is small but has a very good vaporiser so you won't waste any. The only criticism I would have was that the size meant that it didn't last long, but I suppose that keeps the price down making it a good gift idea. I would buy this again but I have a few more smellies left in the cabinet so I'll use them first, then you never know I might get it again next Christmas! I certainly wouldn't be disappointed if I did!

Fruit Ninja (iPhone Application) 01/06/2010

Fruit Ninja - why you should never take a watermelon to Japan

Fruit Ninja (iPhone Application) There are loads of 59p games in the App store, some good, some not so good, but this is a corker. The game does exacty as the title suggests - you are a Ninja who slices Fruit. This is done by using your finger in a slashing motion to slice the fruit as it is thrown onto the screen. The controls are really basic but work so well - you never feel that the action is anything other than the finger movement you have just performed. The graphics are really solid as well, and the sliced fruit spins away in two halves leaving a spray of juice behind, with a very satisfying squelching sound. The game modes are also very simple - in 'classic' you slice fruit, you can drop no more than 3 pieces, and there is the added danger of 'bombs', which when sliced cause an explosion that ends your game instantly. In 'zen' mode you have 90 seconds to slice as much fruit as possible, with no bombs or lives. There is also a 3rd game mode that at the time of writing has 'coming soon' written next to it, so there is more to come from this game. These features on their own would be enough to give the app 3 stars, but what really sets this apart is the online features. The game uses 'Openfeint' technology, which is basically a similar version of the achievements and leaderboards part of XBox live. This also allows you to connect to Facebook and Twitter, so straight away you have a global leaderboard and a list of high scores from your friend lists. This is where the game really shines - there's ...

Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec (PS2) 08/11/2001

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec (PS2) It’s difficult to say with any degree of accuracy how much of my life has been spent playing Gran Turisimo 1 and 2, but it’s no exaggeration to say that my expectations of GT3 were very very high. Initial thoughts weren’t so good, however. After finally managing to borrow a Playstation 2 for a fortnight whilst a friend was away, I looked forward to some intensive driving and a good opportunity to put the Playstation 2’s premier game through it’s paces. You get a choice of arcade, which is very accessible, or Gran Turisimo mode in which you have to win races to earn money to buy new cars or upgrade your existing ones. After diving straight into the Gran Turisimo mode (the purists choice), the first thing to strike me was the lack of second hand cars. In the previous two incarnations, you could pick up a second hand motor for a reasonable amount of cash and upgrade it substantially to take on the big boys. The second hand market has been removed from GT3, although you can pick up a few older models from the showrooms. This was a disappointment, as one of the highlights of the first two games was buying a second hand nail and tuning it up to thrash much better cars. Only having new cars also severely restricts the range of cars available from the start, as your initial 18000 credits only allows you to buy from about 8 different models. The second noticeable omission was in the range of cars available. In GT2 there were literally hundreds of ...

Pantene Pro V Normal Hair Shampoo 18/10/2001

Buy this if you don't know what you're doing

Pantene Pro V Normal Hair Shampoo It’s easy when you’re a teenager – you just walk up to the shelf and pick up the one labeled greasy. Adulthood presents more difficulties though. The problem is that I have absolutely no idea what type of hair I have. So I’m stood there, looking at the shampoo section of my local Superdrug, and there must be at least fifty different varieties of shampoo, conditioner, ‘2 in 1’s, all staring back at me. All I know is that I wash it every morning and as long as it doesn’t fall out, then I’m happy. So why the need for so many different products? Do I need extra shine and extra hold? Do I need to volumise? And what the hell is ‘hot oil’, and why is it so damn expensive? I know I haven’t got dandruff, so that rules some out. I haven’t got a perm and I don’t dye my hair, so that’s some more gone. Common sense tells me that cheap usually means nasty, and I can’t justify paying extra for Nicky Clarke and Trevor Sorbie (whoever they are) seeing as I don’t really know what I’m doing. So that leaves me with a choice of about five, middle of the road, inexpensive shampoos – Fructis, Pantene, VO5, Organics, etc. The only reason I choose Pantene pro-V is because it’s got vitamins in it, and apparently they are good for you. I did use Fructis for a while (they changed the packaging on Pantene and it took me a while to realize), and to be fair it’s no better or no worse ...

Amsterdam in general 15/08/2001

Much more than sex and sleaze

Amsterdam in general I should start with an apology for anyone who has never heard of Amsterdam. I am making the assumption that everyone knows of the place, knows where it is, and is aware of it’s reputation. If you haven’t, where have you been?? Before going on a weekend break to Holland’s most famous city, I took a straw poll of friends and relatives to see what they thought of the place. I was quite surprised to find that it was considered to be extremely seedy by everyone I asked, which was in contrast to the ‘cosmopolitan’ ideal that I had formed. In retrospect, I think it’s best if you take this opinion on board before you travel – this way you can minimise the impact of any ‘nasty’ or ‘shocking’ incidents you may encounter. We decided to fly to ‘Dam, even though this was only a weekend break and it would have been far cheaper than the ferry, we wanted to arrive in style. The flight was magical, any seasoned traveller would probably be able to pick faults with the service if they wanted to, but this was the first time I had been in an aeroplane for over ten years, and after winning a best of three scissors, paper, stone match I had been awarded the coveted window seat. Checking in was remarkably easy, in fact the whole service took less than twenty minutes from the time we arrived to the time we handed over our tickets. The flight was aboard KLM airlines, flying from Manchester. The flight time, once we had ...

Civilisation II (PC) 11/08/2001

King for a Day

Civilisation II (PC) Sid Meier is one of a handful of programmers who have reached a kind of celebrity status. He devised the phenomenally successful Sim City series of games, but his finest work in many people’s eyes has been the Civilization games. In Civ 2, you play the leader of a civilization, ranging from Genghis Khan to Napoleon to Catherine the Great. Your tribe is initially tiny, and it is your first task to found a city and to allow it to grow. This is done by utilizing the natural resources around you and combining them with various city improvements that can be built, for instance building a granary in your city helps you to store more food. As your city prospers, you can allocate resources to build military units, create trade and wealth, and to discover new technologies. You can also build settlers, and use these to found new cities and expand. The aim of the game depends on how you want to conduct yourself as leader. The game can be won either by conquering all opposing Civilizations or by building a starship and colonizing Alpha Centauri (there is a game of this name by Sid Meier which picks up where this route finishes). The game begins in 4000BC but finishes in 2020AD, so you must decide how you wish to proceed and make it happen before the turn limit is reached. The beauty of this game is that when you begin the game you have no idea which outcome you will eventually pursue – the area surrounding your cities is highlighted but the rest of the map is ... 10/08/2001

Nik naks for your PC is basically a mail order firm that has embraced the technological marvel that is the Internet and has adapted its business so that it is now entirely online. What this means for you is that the company is already well established, and is fundamentally much more sound than a new fly by night internet company set up to make a fast buck. So, when you order you have the extra peace of mind knowing that this company has been delivering to people for a long time, and so are far less likely to mess up or lose your order. You also know that they are not going to fold overnight, disappearing without a trace and taking your money with them. So what do they sell? Primarily they sell computers, not just computers but virtually every conceivable part of a computer, so if you are technically minded enough to be able to add bits onto your computer as and when you need to you will find everything you need here. If, like me, your knowledge is a little less hardcore, you can find a variety of ‘ready-made’ PCs and laptops from a variety of manufacturers. The products on the site are grouped into categories, which is essential since the product range is huge. They also sell TVs, VCRs, DVD players, digital cameras, hi-fis, and software, although this is limited to business tools rather than games. How do they compare by price? Well, they’re certainly a lot cheaper than your average high street store like Dixons or PC World, but then you’d expect this with ...

Inversions - Iain M. Banks 03/08/2001

Not his finest hour

Inversions - Iain M. Banks There is no doubt that Iain Banks has written some fantastic books. Unfortunately he seems to have this habit of punctuating modern classics with some distinctly so-so titles. ‘Inversions’ is not really one book, but two separate tales told together. The writing styles and storylines remain separate until the inevitable tie in at the end. The chapters, titled simply ‘The Doctor’ and ‘The Bodyguard’ are told in sequence, with the plot of each story proceeding at roughly the same pace, so a development in one plotline will be closely followed by an equally paced development in the other. It is this ability to bend the rules of traditional storytelling that is undoubtedly one of Banks’ greatest assets. This simply reads differently to most other books you are likely to come across, and so becomes very accessible before the story even gets going. The mix of writing styles helps the reader to keep the stories separate, and stops the events becoming confused. The story of ‘The Doctor’ is told in the first person, in the form of a journal, whilst the story of ‘The Bodyguard’ is in the third person, following the more traditional model of an impersonal historical record. ‘The Doctor’ in question, Doctor Vossill, is chief physician to King Quience. She is an outsider who has come to gain the respect of the King, but is distrusted by many of the members of the royal court. ‘The ...

BBC News 24 18/07/2001

Camp Dan the Weatherman

BBC News 24 I work some funny shifts, and if, like me, you regularly get home at an ungodly hour you will find that telly is pretty dire. I tried OnDigital last year and was disappointed to find that all it gave me was an extra 23 channels of cack (Men & Motors anyone?). So, after 3 months I cancelled it. 2 weeks later some bloke rang me up to arrange collection of the box. The conversation went something like this: "Hello, I'm ringing to arrange collection of your OnDigital box, I understand that you want to give it back." "No, not really." "OK then, sorry to have troubled you, bye." And so it was that I found myself in possession of an OnDigital set top box with no extra channels, which I didn't mind since I had it rigged through my stereo for Dolby sound, and it had an onscreen telly guide to boot. As I mentionned earlier, by the time I usually get home there's nothing worth watching, and I'm just too damn lazy and disorganised to set the video every morning before I go to work. I have always, however, had a keen interest in keeping up to date with the latest happenings in the world, and so I slowly began to drift towards BBC News 24, one of the 5 free digital channels available to anyone with the equipment to decode them. At first my interest was just for a quick fix, with the headlines every fifeteen minutes. However, as any junkie will tell you, a succession of quick fixes can only lead to one thing - a habit!! I began to watch more not for the polished, ...

Nintendo 64 17/07/2001

Less is most definitely more

Nintendo 64 OK, I'm not going to go into some pureile rant about who makes the best consoles, I'll leave that for the ten year olds in the playground. The fact is that I own a Dreamcast, Playstation, N64, and a 3DO (remember them?) and, in terms of entertainment per hour, the N64 comes out tops. Let me tell you why... Like many men in their mid-twenties I would like nothing better than to waste away every available hour chasing yellow stars, beating lap records, shooting people in the head (!), but the fact is that work, girlfriend, mates etc. have an annoying habit of getting in the way. So, what I need is quality gaming that gives me maximum pleasure with the least amount of pissing about. This is where the N64 shines for me. You may, legitimately, argue that the amount of games available for the 64 is restrictively low, but as an occasional gamer this does not pose a problem as I will never have enough time to complete 90% of the games that I buy. What the N64 gives me are exhilirating and easily accessible classics that delight in either casual play, or when time permits, more in depth button bashing sessions. You see, if you took a straw poll of the best games of the last five years, the N64 would undoutably score some of the highest placings available, with games such as Perfect Dark, Zelda, Goldeneye, and of course Mario. Looking at the top 100 would give a worse overall rating, with much of the places taken by Playstation games. But as someone who doesn't have time to play ...

Smile 17/07/2001

I like the colour purple. It's soothing.

Smile After much careful consideration I went for the money, 6% interest on a mini cash ISA beats anything anyone else can offer at the moment, much better than the high street. Also I like the colour purple. It's soothing. Setting up the ISA is dead easy, although I was alarmed when the online application tracker said that a decision on whether I could open it or not was pending a credit check - for an ISA??? This must be a standard message though, as I got a confirmation message soon into office hours. My intro letter and paying in book came pretty much straight away, although people of a nervous disposition should be warned - the picture on the front of the paying in book is of a grotesquely formed creature straight out of Dante's Inferno - I think it's supposed to be a cheshire cat but it's vile. The intro letter is a lot more useful than the info on the site (which, to be fair isn't bad), and raises the only real gripe I have about the ISA. IT'S NOT INSTANT ACCESS!!!! If I had known this then I probably wouldn't have signed up. The trick is that if you have a smile current account, then you can make instant cash transfers, but if you don't then it takes 4 days for the money to appear in your account. I had assumed that, as smile was owned by co-op, you would be able to get the cash from one of their branches, or at least get a cash card. This is not the case. The site itself is about as good as it gets, simple and informative (and very, very purple!), and ... 17/07/2001

I'm new to all this and this site... I'm new to all this and this site is an excellent way of getting into online competitions. I remember years ago my Dad getting monthly mags like Competitors Companion etc and trawling round Asda looking for entry forms on the side of cereal boxes etc., anyway I've only been on the internet for about 1 month, I came across this site almost straight away and decided to check it out. I was surprised at just how accessible everything was, both in terms of the amount of information available, and how quick and easy it is to enter competitions. I mainly use the "Closing this week" section of the site as it marks in red what competitions you've already entered and seems the easiest way of tracking what you're doing. I feel that the more specific areas such as Win a PC or Win a car are probably wishful thinking, seeing as your chances of actually winning are so remote. I'd be interested to hear from other Ciao users as to whether the scattergun approach (enter everything regardless of the prize) is better than the specific 'pick it and win it' approach, I'm trying the former myself, maybe I'll sell the unwanted prizes over an online auction. The other area of the loquax site which caught my eye was the "Community" bulletin boards, reading these give you a good guide as to what type and how many competitions you need to be entering to really start making an impact on your lifestyle/standard of living. Some of these people take 'comping' VERY seriously, but when you read how ...
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