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gizmogizmo

gizmogizmo

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★ ★ ★★ Keep Shining...... always ★★ ★ ★

Reviews written

since 31/10/2003

25

Haroupo Ergospasio, Elounda 21/10/2009

A Viewing Window for Flavours and a True Taste of Greece

Haroupo Ergospasio, Elounda Introduction Gone are the days when the hubby and I could book a last minute package to our beloved Greece, throw a few clothes in a rucksack and stuff a few Euro's in our pocket's for quite a few beers and a meal a day!. Since becoming a mother i've transformed myself into a planner, a fanatical ironer and seeker of quality food to bestow on my daughter in the hope she will have a more varied palate than her father - who unfortunately remains a meat and two veg man despite my protests. So just 2 weeks after giving birth to my daughter last May we decided to return to Elounda in June this year, where we have spent many a happy holiday and 'eventually' married there back in 2004. I had great plans on the Taverna's we would return to... that is until we discovered the Ergospasio on one of our many early morning walks with the little one. Getting up at 7am we had plenty of time to have a wander and explore the menu's of the many taverna's based around Elounda's beautiful harbour and causeway, I could ummm and ahhh at the dishes on offer without the owner leaping on me and offering me a table. So the Ergospasio caught my attention firstly because it is positioned next to a 'delightful' establishment complete with magical light shows, water fountains dancing in the sea and mannequins wearing - well let's just say rather dodgy outfits, how on earth could Ergospasio compare!?... easy, it had a set of six simple tables positioned outside, an octopus drying in the sun and a menu ...

Hotel Nacional de Cuba, Havana 20/02/2008

The Jewel in Havana's Crown

Hotel Nacional de Cuba, Havana Back in 2004 I was lucky enough to celebrate the New Year in Havana the capital city of Cuba and vowed if ever I were to return I would spend a few days staying with the lady that is proclaimed to be 'The Jewel of Havana' better known as the Hotel Nacional De Cuba. Needless to say during that first trip I fell in love with the people, the music and the overwhelming ambience of the country and of course Che Guevara (all over again). The Journey…. During my post Christmas blues this year I booked a return trip. We spend a relaxing day in the NH Crystal Resort in the Cayo's and enjoy a few Mojito's before joining the transfer coach which will take us on the 30 minute journey to Jardines Del Rey Airport and after a smooth check in we board our ATR42 Cubanacan flight (which needless to say is an experience in itself if you know your aircraft) for the late afternoon flight. We are served black coffee during the 40 minute flight which is so strong it manages to counteract my earlier Mojito's. The lights over Havana are sparodic as we touch down and we depart the airport into the balmy late evening and one of the most stunning sunsets I have ever seen. Cubans mingle around the small kiosks outside - which sell small cartons of rum and little else and head for our awaiting 'taxi' - a souped up stunning pre 1960 Chevvy painted in a lovely shade of lilac which will be our ride through the suburbs and into Havana and our hotel the 'Nacional De Cuba'. With our luggage loaded ...

Melia Cayo Guillermo, Ciego de Avila 01/12/2007

Mayabe Another Mojito....?

Melia Cayo Guillermo, Ciego de Avila The other half and I take it in turns to pick a new holiday destination each year and it so happened that a couple of years ago we decided to go away for New Years Eve and as it was my turn to choose I had to think of something pretty special, not hard as ever since I can remember I have had a certain curiosity about the Caribbean island of Cuba (Ernesto Che Guevara, the smell of cigar smoke and Mojito's…. not necessarily in that order). After many a winters evening browsing endless brochures I finally booked a twin centre holiday with Thomas Cook consisting of 3 nights B&B in Havana (which I will review separately) and ten at the beach resort of Cayo Guillermo staying at the All Inclusive Melia Cayo Guillermo. The total price was £1120 per person. THE JOURNEY…...... After a rather uneventful but cramped 10 hour flight (always, always request an aisle seat each if you do economy long haul) we finally touch down at Jardines del Rey Airport and step off the plane into the glorious Cuban late afternoon sunshine and into what seems like an endless queue leading to small cubicles which you enter on by one and have your passport and visa checked by security staff. As we stand patiently a uniformed Cuban taps the other half on the shoulder and asks in impeccable English 'what do you do for a living?' an odd question, maybe it's because he looks a bit shady with yesterdays No 1 haircut?… Finally we exit into the area containing the luggage carrousels and as our fellow ...

Tefal 2810 Pressing Compact 22/07/2007

....A Domestic Goddess

Tefal 2810 Pressing Compact After spending 20 minutes in our local Comet store discussing some irritating little gadget with 'the bloke' I find myself wandering off and edging towards some rather nifty looking irons, sad I know. I was particularly drawn to a rather snazzy purple and pink one and spent a few minutes scrutinising it before I am informed by 'the bloke' who has appeared behind me that it is no good as it has a stainless steel sole plate.... this astounds both me and a fellow female customer and the way he is pointing out the pros of a ceramic sole plate against the stainless steel one you would think he is the king of ironing... oh I wish, I made the conscious decision years ago to avoid much pain and anguish and excessive electric bills (and many a crease) that I would take responsibility for the wonderful chore that is ironing the deal being that in return I have no responsibility for any car maintenance full stop. So after testing out the weightiness (an iron needs to be heavy to bash out creases) I select the rather boring white and turquoise coloured Tefal 2810 Pressing Compact as does the fellow female customer (I think she is in shock) complete with 'Ultra Glide Diffusion' sole plate at the price of £74.99.... actually it's not ceramic so there!! On leaving the shop with a big bulky box and considerably less cash in my pocket I cannot believe I have spent that much money on an iron and it was on half price offer at that, however having given up smoking in January I am now ...

Monologues 12/07/2007

A Bus Journey

Monologues The woman on the bus looked just like you or at least there was something about her that reminded me of you…not that I could put my finger on it, it was just something you see. She got on the bus singing, singing in this sharp shrill voice, then, humming a tune softly to herself she sat down beside me…her head tightly wrapped in a swirled blue and grey scarf, folded in a triangle and knotted under her chin. I think that’s what made me think of you because it was just like the ones you used to wear over your rollers. You know she wore American Tan tights…I think that was the shade, and when she twisted her foot around in her slip-on shoe, which were all the go and looked out of place…I thought… on her gnarled and wizened feet, I saw this gapping hole in her tights which revealed the arch of her foot and the base of a twisted big toe. The shoes were scuffed, she’d got this beige tweed jacket on over a knitted brown skirt, bobbly and worn that reached just below her knees which reminded me of bent coat hangers. I watched her through the drivers mirror, her reflection looking back at me.. vacantly… a chin that curled to touch her nose covered in powder puffed skin and a touch of rouge swept across her cheeks… boneless and sagging. Her eyes though were bright… brighter than you’d expect. Do you remember how we used to take the bus down into Burton from Harper Road…. past the Marmite factory… didn’t it use to smell?… you’d never have a jar in the house… You know the house ...

Recipes for Main Courses 30/05/2007

Bolognaise Sauce as Promised…

Recipes for Main Courses Serves 1 Or a Few Put your pinny on, pour yourself a drop of your favourite tipple and play your favourite tune (Bananarama’s ‘Robert De Niro’s Waiting… Talking Italian’ is always a good choice…) Wash your hands so as not to poison yourself or fellow diners and arrange your ingredients…. 1 standard pack minced beef (chop with a sharp knife to create smaller pieces.....which don’t represent worms ) 1 large onion, chopped (if this usually makes you cry try sucking a spoon whilst you're chopping... it does work) 2 cloves of garlic but preferably 4 finely chopped.... or if you’re posh use a pessel & mortar A large handful of mushrooms (wiped clean) and sliced quite chunky Tube of Tomato Puree Tin chopped Tomatoes (break up a bit more by bashing with a fork or potato masher) 2 tbsp olive oil good pinch of dried oregano Salt to taste Glug of Red Wine (a small glass) …. (if you like it!) What to do!… Heat up the oil and on a medium heat soften the mushrooms, onions and garlic in a saucepan for (2-4 minutes), stirring from time to time so it doesn’t burn!... do not let the onions go black! Then add the minced beef and cook until it doesn’t look raw anymore.... i.e it’s brown all over (another few minutes), then add the wine if you’re using it and allow it to ‘soak’ into the mince for a minute or so. Throw in the tinned tomatoes then add the tube of tomato puree (squeeze it out of the tube first)!. Add salt to taste and a ...

Kuredu Island Resort, Maldives 23/05/2007

Do You Kuredu??

Kuredu Island Resort, Maldives GENERAL........... My hubby and I take it in turns to pick a destination each year (we rarely go out and save hard for these luxuries!), last year was my choice - delightful Cuba, this year the hubby chose the Maldives, however I did get to choose the resort. After much agonising I picked Kuredu, mainly because it is one of the largest islands in the Maldives and I felt it would offer a wider choice of activities and nightlife, I didn't want to travel all that way and just laze on a beach all day - I can do that in Greece After a knackering journey, we are greeted at Kuredu by banging drums - quite novel and a nice touch, but after 2 weeks of hearing the drums bang new arrivals in daily it can get a bit tedious!! . Check in was smooth, no complaints, then we were directed to our room. Wow, an hexagonal pine built villa with four poster bed and an outdoor bathroom!! .. very, very nice THE BASICS....... Kuredu offers a variety of accommodation options but. we decided to upgrade to a beach villa, which cost an extra £740 on top of the standard Beach Bungalow price. Money well spent ... after a walk round the Island on our second day we found that the bungalows and Sangu water villas are located on the windward side of the island, which is covered with dense coconut palms, and the ocean is considerably choppier which leaves the bungalows in the shade - quite literally, but if you are going to the Maldives to dive, or relax in a water villa with your loved one what ...

Mini Sagas 12/05/2007

Look Out For Me

Mini Sagas Kitchen table, cluttered with the remnants of our night together. The empty red wine bottles, labels stained and unreadable. I thought I loved you but obviously I was wrong and I clear up the mess, the spewing ashtray and dirty glasses, dirty plates not quite scrapped clean. I never loved you. It was just something I put myself through to tease and humiliate myself a little more, to drive myself a little more insane. And you knew it. You played on it, like a child on a swing. You played with my mind like no-one ever could. But the strange thing is that I let you, I let you take over my life. I walk to the shops and I think of you. Turning it over in my mind. It looked beautiful, the table, but I don’t suppose you noticed. Daffs from the market and pretty pink napkins, the finishing touch. You were late, but you wouldn’t want to look too eager would you?. The floorboards on the stairs crackled with your arrival. Quick look in the mirror, I suppose I looked fine. You stood, your presence in the doorway, clutching a bottle of red wine. No flowers. But what did I expect?. Sainsbury’s, I don’t think I could eat a thing and you shouldn’t shop on an empty stomach anyway. Something to cheer me up. Clothes, no, I feel bloated and horrible. A hair dye. Now that would do the trick. Brunette, sultry, seductive… Blonde, bubbly and fun. No, that would never do. What’s wrong with me the way I am anyway. But you, you still played on my mind. The meal was nice, nothing sexy, just a ...

Hotel Spiros, Naxos 03/03/2007

Spiros... A Stunning Little Greek In Naxos

Hotel Spiros, Naxos The Choice... My passion for browsing holiday brochures on cold dismal nights continued, the hubby fancied the Cyclades- a group of Greek Islands scattered across the Aegean sea of Greece - for a change from our usual choices of Crete, and Kos etc.- and as ever it was left to me to choose the appropriate dwelling for our two weeks.away. I decided on Naxos, only accessible by ferry via a chartered flight to Mykonos (if partaking in a package), the largest Island in the Cyclades.. The week before Christmas of 2004 I booked and paid a small deposit of £90 to Kosmar - a Greek holiday specialist in the UK - the balance of £600 was due the following June - plenty of time to save. The hubby wanted to book flights and accommodation separately but I like the security of a package holiday! The Outbound Journey We leave Brum with ample time to spare, chartered flights to Mykonos in the UK only operate from Manchester and Gatwick and we chose Manchester - tackling the M6 is never much fun!! We check in with plenty of time to spare and board our flight to Mykonos. After the 4 hour flight we are greeted by the local rep and directed to our transport bus to the port, and are advised we can enjoy a refreshing drink at the 'Yacht Club' prior to boarding the' Naxos Star' which will transport us comfortably to the port of Hora - the capital of Naxos. After a brief coach journey enjoying the splendid scenery of Mykonos, typical Greek Blue and White architecture we arrive at ...

Poems of Love 08/02/2007

Beloved ...

Poems of Love ....however any better suggestions would be appreciated on a Post Card please.... Oh to feel your fingers run across my face again to feel your tears brush my burning cheeks and your crashing tangle my hair .... Leaving the trace of the day on my sun drenched skin Brushing into silver over the memories ... To hear your song calling to my ears I want to run ... Falling until you wrap your force around me again folding and twisting me into your warmth and your cold ... Oh how I want to feel you again.... Beloved Ocean *** xxx *** xxx *** xxx *** xxx *** xxx *** Many thanks Vicky.. you're an inspiration xx *** xxx *** xxx *** xxx *** xxx *** xxx *** ...

Fiction 28/12/2006

First Snow

Fiction Clare woke early. Brushing sleep from her eyes with heavy fingers she glanced at her watch …. Seven Fifteen… then moving back the curtains she gasped in surprise… The ground outside was covered in snow, cats footprints had stencilled patterns across the garden. Clare sighed.. she used to love being the first person to break the first snow of the year. This year would be different, this year it would not be a dance around the garden of her childhood.. but trudging along, pushing damp Sunday papers through other peoples unforgiving letterboxes.. that would break it.. no, no dancing this year, crunching the new snow under her feet. She pulled on several layers of clothes, he brother's cast offs, grabbed from the back of her wardrobe. She wasn't in the least bit worried that the clothes were dreadfully old fashioned and boyish, at least she'd be warm, but she felt decidedly bulky. Pulling on her Wellingtons she felt worse. Wellingtons were another story, she hoped no-one would see her.... She picked up the heavy bag and walked from the shop, walking carefully over the paving stones, which were supposed to add character to the town. They were so slippy in winter, just like a skating rink… As she pushed the papers through the letterboxes she didn't care if the whole lot of them got the wrong paper today. After all one pound fifty to deliver papers in the snow, first snow at that. No, it was no fun this year.... breaking the first snow. Maybe it would ...

Short Stories 27/11/2006

A storm in a teacup....

Short Stories She couldn't sleep, awake for what seemed like hours.. Watching, just watching as the clouds passed over the moon. Sometimes the moon would be covered for ages by a thick patch of cloud, then all of a sudden it would appear again, a brilliant white light streaming across the bedroom where the curtains didn't reach. Careful not to disturb him as he slept she reached across his twisted body and groped for the Embassy's perched on the edge of his bedside table, knocking his Zippo to the floor as she did so, damn, she didn't want to wake him. He shifted, pulling the covers with him.. Leaving her open to the cold. Just look at him… in the foetal position now, why?, he didn't love his mother, poor cow.... she chain smoked on some supermarket brand, like javelins hanging from her mouth. His father smoked woodbines, with the twinkly gold symbol on the side of the pack, like a Christmas decoration. No filters.. Offering no barrier from the harsh smoke hitting the back of the throat like a chisel. Her own parents, of course, didn't smoke. One left, would he notice?...he'd probably got twenty stashed somewhere anyway. She knew all the hiding places, the crack in the beam in the front room, two pastimes together, the cigarettes and the betting slips, and sometimes there would be two packets stuffed between the bread bin and the wall in the kitchen. No, he wouldn't notice. But the matches, they would be like a distress signal going up in the night air, but who would come to the ...

Zia, Kos 15/11/2006

Zia - the essence of authentic Greece -

Zia, Kos if you win at Backgammon..... When it comes to my girlie week away with my mum we are inadvertently a bad influence on each other - putting of any sight seeing or daytrips with the comment 'do you fancy it tomorrow' - if you have ever visited Greece you will now doubt have experienced 'GMT' - Greek Maybe Time - hence we are very, very lazy...this Greek GMT attitude rubs off on us, but why not! I work 48 weeks a year and one week of rest never hurts anyone....a nice healthy Greek breakfast of yogurt and honey - a few walnuts if I'm feeling adventurous, a good book and a sunlounger until lunch... a gentle stroll in search of a nice taverna serving nice mezedes and cold Mythos.. i'm made until nightfall... more Mythos, Metaxa.. etc etc.. That is until I challenged a local (god forbid) to a game of Backgammon - Tavili.... The Challenge.... If I won I promised to visit his village, Zia - teetering on the edge of Mount Dikeos - the highest mountain in Kos (by all accounts).. (I hate hills)... I took the challenge - i'd never win.. the Greeks are fed on backgammon from birth!.... However.. I won, maybe I won by my backgammon expertise - or maybe I was just fooled into being lured into the hills... So This Is My story of Zia...... It is Sunday Evening....I dress with respect - Black trousers, Black top hoping I will fade into the humdrum of local village life with my 'blackness', mother does the same. Dinner is to be served in the local backgammon players ...

Dorset Cereals Super High Fibre 06/11/2006

So Munchy It Made My Jaw Ache

Dorset Cereals Super High Fibre A few months ago I did a much needed clearout of my kitchen cupboards and was amazed at how many half empty boxes of cereals I actually had!, rarely finding the time to enjoy breakfast I tend to get bored of the latest faddy cereals on offer. On a recent food shop (a unusually healthy one at that!) I spotted this little beauty. I must admit that the thing that at attracted me to it was the beautifully designed box (the packaging has changed and is nothing like the picture above) - quite a work of art, the product is contained in an elegant matt brown box, with silver and orange detailing, it shouted 'class' - if a cereal can!! And if I was excited by the box I couldn't wait to check out its contents! The box has a fine little cut out detail - you can see the product inside, I decide to try a generous bowlful topped with ice cold skimmed milk. so far so good - It looks colourful and appealing. The blurb on the box promises .. 'no dust' ..this is true .. the quality just goes on and on, it doesn't get lost or disintegrate in the milk and contains a whopping 50% fruit nuts and seeds.. The Chilean Flame raisins are out of this world - fresh tasting big juicy plump ones, they make up a whopping 27% of the product!, in addition to the toasted and malted wheat and oat flakes you'll also find more goodies to tempt your taste buds - decent sized pieces of toasted coconut, apricots, dates and sunflower seeds. No searching through the box for the good bits with this one!! - a ...

Haraki, Rhodes 02/11/2006

Little Gem Haraki

Haraki, Rhodes The Choice... This was my first holiday away with my mum (we now go away each year for a week) and one of her closest friends, and after browsing through countless brochures we finally chose the little resort of Haraki in Rhodes for the first week in June, staying at the Stella Studios sharing a two bedroomed apartment. We booked through Kosmar as a package at £199 each. The journey.... We depart from East Midlands airport early evening, and board our 4 hour flight to Rhodes with 'Aegean Airlines'. Mum is in for a shock, when the unusually dressed steward (jeans and a t-shirt) asks what she would like to drink she requests a brandy and soda, 'no brandy', she then requests a whiskey, 'no whiskey'... it appears they either have no alcohol on board or just don't serve it... We are whisked aboard the transfer coach and arrive in Haraki after a brief 40 minute transfer, experiencing the delights of late night Faliraki along the way! (not nice - no wonder the Mayor is trying to tidy the place up - and Brits tend to have a bad name in Greece).... the less said the better. The Resort.... We arrived at resort at about 6.30am, myself clad in jeans and denim jacket. To our amazement the sun was already shining, an excellent start to what would prove to be an unforgettable week. First impressions however where not good - our rep left us at the dusty roadside in the hot sun whilst she escorted other holidaymakers to their chosen accommodation, however we were in for ...
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