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since 21/01/2002


Marks and Spencer Swiss Milk Extra Fine Chocolate 13/01/2003

Jamez in 'coming out' shocker

Marks and Spencer Swiss Milk Extra Fine Chocolate I've decided that my chocolate consumption can no longer be hidden, and I must come out of the closet. Declaring: "My name is James and I'm a chocoholic" And without further ado I'll tell you about my current bar of choice. Taste: Silky smooth, melts easily but slowly, thick milky consistency, delicate flavouring, urges you not to chew, but to suck. Lives up to its claims (see packaging) Compared to Cadbury’s dairy milk it melts quicker, and is not quite as sweet, Cadbury’s dairy milk is literally rammed with sugar taste, whereas this is a much more chocolaty taste, with sugar undertones (eh you what?). Cadbury’s dairy milk is a "bite me, eat me quick" chocolate, but this a more refined, more relaxed chocolate which contains more cocoa but doesn't need to be an "acquired taste". Aroma: Sweet, chocolate, milky, makes my mouth water. Smells more chocolaty but less sweet than Cadbury’s dairy milk. Visual: Pale chocolate brown a shade lighter than Cadbury’s dairy milk, generous size "squares" (20mm x 25mm) but thin (5-7mm deep), a simple hatching design on top. Price: 99p for a bar 150g bar - current 3 for 2quid Packaging: Consists of a paper wrapper and foil inner. Foil inner is not sealed - which I like because I can unfold it carefully. Paper wrapper is sealed with 7 or so spots of glue along the middle. Wrapper Design: Shows a close up of the chocolate to probably 150% magnification, on top of this image is a simple rectangle in the background ...

Everything that starts with W ... 29/11/2002

What can it be...

Everything that starts with W ... I’ve been set this challenge by Smaggs76, she made up the challenge and posted one herself first. Its the mystery "what am I?" challenge. (Hence the W). "It surrounds us and binds us" "A long long time ago" it just didn't exist. But now its everywhere from Rio to Tokyo, from Berlin to Los Angeles. It enthralls us and annoys us. It informs and educates us. It can alienate or it can associate. It is used by children and adults alike. By governments and by terrorists. It is quite hard to describe to your grandparents. And it all started as a science project in a university in America! I hope this isn't too hard, but I didn't want to make it too easy. I'll give you the answer as a comment. So no peeking!

Isvik - Hammond Innes 13/11/2002

More like frozen peas than a chiller thriller

Isvik - Hammond Innes Firstly I'd like to say that this is my first (and possibly last) book opinion. I have so far avoided doing books because I felt it would flash back to some very bad attempts I made at "Book Reviews" whilst at school (i.e. "I liked this book because it was good"). But I have persuaded myself to do this one partly because of the competition, and partly because you need to know that I think this book was pants. So now that you know the ending of this op, great we'll get down to the nitty gritty. What's it all about then? Isvik is the name of a ship which takes a voyage from Argentina to Antarctica, on this voyage it is crewed by some very different people, who all have their own reasons for being there apart from the "hero" of this book who just kind of fell into it and couldn't back out because he couldn't afford to get back home. The mission they are on is to find a wooden ship which is trapped in the ice and was spotted by the late Charles Sunderby. The crew · Pete - The "hero" a wood preserver made redundant from his job in a small insurance firm. · Iain - The financier, an eccentric Glaswegian who reveals his past in dribs and drabs to Pete during their journey to and in Argentina. · Iris - Widow of Charles Sunderby, is obsessed with proving her late husband wasn't imagining things when he saw the wooden ship. · Carlos - A cousin of Iris he initially follows her around, then gets arrested for her murder. · Angel - A seemingly evil man, who is also smarmy and ...

Alton Towers Ciao Meet 24/10/2002

Into the Black Hole between Shufflebum's legs

Alton Towers Ciao Meet If you’ve read any of the other opinions about this meet up event, then you’ll probably know that I went along. You might even know that I went with Mortimus, but if you’re reading still, I expect that you want to know more (perhaps the title intrigued you ;) and you want to know about it from my perspective. Mortimus (whom for sake of argument I will call Phil from now on) and I walked off nemesis and up the slope towards the photo booth. I say walked, but for me it was more of a stagger or a swerving motion, so it was understandable if I didn’t know that we had arrived at the meet as the others were standing there waiting for us to dismount as it were. Added to the fact that I don’t bother wearing glasses for my short sight except whilst driving caused me to continue my stagger until I was within range. Fortunately I’m not anywhere near Mr Magoo’s level which is why I don’t bother with the glasses (that and the fact that if I continually wore them then my eyesight would deteriorate more rapidly). As to the question of why I was staggering you probably have to rewind 4 hours to about 7am when I was forced to rise and drink coffee and eat a bacon sandwich (cheers Phil) and then leave in order to arrive at Alton towers for 9.01 am (Phil was quite impressed by that, I tried to remain nonchalant). Anyway in short order I was presented to Trampus (Sarah), Howiemon (Dave), Deano76 (Dean), CheekyChicken (Mel), Shufflebum (Rachel), CareBear (Clare), her husband BestBit ...

Waitrose Organic Plain Belgian Chocolate 04/10/2002

I'm not bitter, but this is...

Waitrose Organic Plain Belgian Chocolate Chocolate, not many people haven’t heard the word and don’t have something that springs instantly to mind, but I’m willing to bet that there is a lot about chocolate that most people wouldn’t know. To start with lets examine the word. My handy online dictionary (albeit American) ( has this to say: " choc·o·late n. 1. Fermented, roasted, shelled, and ground cacao seeds, often combined with a sweetener or flavoring agent. 2. A beverage made by mixing water or milk with chocolate. 3. A small, chocolate-covered candy with a hard or soft center. 4. A grayish to deep reddish brown to deep grayish brown. adj. 1. Made or flavored with chocolate: chocolate pudding. 2. Of a grayish to deep reddish brown to deep grayish brown. " I can almost see you nodding, some of you who aren’t quite awake (for whatever reason) are probably even going "Oh yes I’d forgotten about drinking chocolate" or something similar. Chocolate is even a colour, but that really shouldn’t come as a surprise especially if we can have "sunset red" and other such nonsense and call it colours, so chocolate sounds almost sensible (especially when you think of the alternatives for that colour - yuk) So we’re talking about number 3 obviously, just as long as you can ignore the bit about having a centre, as my chosen chocolate is plain in the extreme and has no centre and is what is called in blighty plain or dark chocolate. Ok so where did chocolate come from (ok so ...

Snozone at Xscape, Milton Keynes 04/09/2002

Choose Snow, Choose Skiing, Choose Life.

Snozone at Xscape, Milton Keynes WebSite ---------- Intro ------- A month ago I was in Milton Keynes skiing. Yes at the beginning of August I went skiing in the UK and what’s more it was real snow, none of this dry slope harsh brushes rubbish. If you’ve read my previous op on SilverSki you’ll know that I’ve had a weeks skiing including tuition and loved it, so to get an “in-between seasons” ski felt pretty good. Booking -------- We didn’t book, and we didn’t need to. We went along at about 12pm on a Saturday and paid there and then. It wasn’t too busy either. I imagine that you would need to book to get a group discount (10 or more of you.) Travel ------- I went by car, and as Snozone is situated at Xscape it has plenty of parking (1,300 spaces to be exact), most of it free. Milton Keynes is unfortunately a car orientated “new town” build in the 60s and 70s when it was inconceivable that in the future people would not want cars. That said Milton Keynes does have a mainline railway station (Milton Keynes Central Station is 40 minutes from London Euston), and a bus system although I’ve never used the latter. If you come by train I think you’d probably be better to get a taxi to Xscape. (The site claims that: “Snozone is then only a 3 minute taxi ride, or 10 minute bus ride from the station.” But it doesn’t say how regular the buses are or how much it is, nor which bus to catch!) Arrival -------- You walk into Xscape and the Snozone isn’t actually as ...

Delonghi ESS602 Halogen Electric Cooker 31/08/2002

I'm cooking on Gas

Delonghi ESS602 Halogen Electric Cooker Ok first I have to admit that this is not about the De Longhi ESS602 Halogen Electric Cooker, instead I write about the cooker I actually own: a De Longhi GS1502W Gas Cooker, and yes I know that what I should have done is added the category to Ciao and then written my op in the correct category and I might even get them to add it and move this op to that category, but I’m not sure its worth it as a quick investigation on the De Longhi website ( shows me that they no longer sell any gas cookers. So why couldn’t I wait? Well for one reason, this op is my entry into the August household appliance competition and well tomorrow its September, so that would be too late. Also this is going to be my one and only op for August and I do like to write at least one a month. Enough with the back story and on to the cooker. I bought this cooker a little under 2 years ago, as I’d just moved in to my flat and the previous owner wanted too much for her gas cooker so I had to buy a cooker. I knew at the time that I wanted a gas cooker, simply because I felt you could get better control with gas and I’m an impatient man, so the idea of instant heat seemed like an attractive commodity. So I had some white goods to purchase when I moved into to my new flat, the first one I’d lived in without appliances and it was the first one I’d owned (with a mortgage that is). Anyway not only did I have to buy a cooker but also a fridge fridge / freezer and a washing machine, luckily I ...

Nationwide Building Society Mortgages 23/07/2002

Carpet Baggers beware

Nationwide Building Society Mortgages I bought my first property in September 2000, and it was a fairly lengthy process made somewhat easier by the Nationwide. Perhaps my optimism about my mortgage from the Nationwide is slightly buoyed by the low interest rate making it a good time to have a mortgage and the increase in house prices is helping too. Before I even started looking at houses I looked for a mortgage as this is one of the options – and possibly the easiest one to do at the time, so I had a chat with my Bank – HSBC and Nationwide, and what really swayed me was that my parents had their mortgage with the Nationwide and I consider them to be fairly wise people. The people at the Nationwide were very helpful in going through the different types of mortgage with me and spent time giving me various quotes (much as HSBC had done) for different products and different loan amounts. They asked questions like “How much do you feel you need to know that your repayments will not change / go up” etc to try to match products to me. In the end I chose a First time buyer mortgage because it gave a nice easy start into the mortgage, didn’t have penalties, only tied you in for 2 years and also they covered the cost of the basic survey (but they recommend you have a thorough survey on top of that which I did opt for). The first time buyer mortgage has 1 year of fixed interest rate, followed by 1 year of discounted variable rate interest followed by normal variable interest ...

Ozzfest 2002 - Donnington Castle 22/06/2002

I lost my sole to Rock and Roll

Ozzfest 2002 - Donnington Castle Ozzfest 2002 As in all my ops and many other writers’ ops I feel the need to give you just a little bit of background. So anyway the background is that I’ve been in to rock and heavy metal since, well since I heard Nirvana’s Smells like a teen spirit, it was so raw and powerful, but I digress, I was in the Six Form and someone introduced me to Metallica and ever since they have been my favourite band. A week or two later (before I was really sure if I really liked it) someone said that they were playing at Milton Keynes bowl (about ¾ hour away by car), I can’t remember whether they asked me if I wanted to go, or if they just said that they were going, but right there and then I had an opportunity to go and be a part of it, and had I done so I’m sure my life would have been different, but the problem was that I was a painfully shy and unconfident teenager and I really wasn’t sure if I could handle it. If I had a time machine I would go back and tell my young self to go, better still I’d go myself, but really its probably a good job I don’t have a time machine. So nearly ten years later and this major metal fan had never been to a rock concert or a major gig, so time to change it and what better way than with the best rock festival in England (OK so I don’t know of any others - sue me). Once called Monsters of Rock, there is undoubtedly some history behind the name change, but I won’t go there. The current ...

Star Wars: Episode II - Attack Of The Clones (Wide Screen) (Two Discs) (Sell Through) (DVD) 18/05/2002

Orgasmic Lightsaber Battles.

Star Wars: Episode II - Attack Of The Clones (Wide Screen) (Two Discs) (Sell Through) (DVD) 3am Saturday 18th May 2002 "This will be a day long remembered" Darth Vader I am buzzing, literally, and I really don’t think that it is the 2 cans of diet coke that I have consumed in the last 3 hours. I took them incidentally just in case I was going to feel sleepy or drowsy whilst watching the film - AS IF!!! Well by now you will know what I am writing about (from the title fools!) and that I have given it 5 stars, but you need to bear with me as the dark side is clouding my vision of the future. However I do know that I’m going to give this film 5 stars and I will try to explain to you why, in my opinion, this film merits such a lofty (and it should be lofty to get 5 stars but that’s another op) honour. So if you can bear with me through my preamble but truly I do not believe that I should cut out my preamble just so that you can know what the film is about without having to see it. If you truly dislike Star Wars that much, then why, for the stars sake, are you reading this op? Are you a clone gone bad? Anyway its about this point that some awful ciao writers will give a synopsis of this film, and I’m not criticising them for that, its just that Star Wars is so close to my heart that I could not give it away to you without you first going to see it. However if you were like that then you wouldn’t be reading this op trying to decide whether to see it or not. If on the very slim chance I am speaking about you, and hopefully to you ...

Star Wars Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook 09/05/2002

'That boy is our last hope'

Star Wars Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook Star Wars Roleplaying Game Core Rules I think to begin with you ought to know, that is if you don’t know by now, that I am a complete Star Wars nut. Having said that I don’t think I’ve really given the game away on here yet. I shall do so now. So I love everything to do with Star Wars, Videos - I have them. Ticket to see Episode II - I have that already, books - I nearly have them all, merchandise - yep I’ve got quite a bit of that too. Finally Star Wars roleplaying books - yes I have lots. Star Wars ------------- If you don’t know what Star Wars is -where have you been for the last 25 years? I would say - go and read my op on Star Wars, but I haven’t written it yet (notice the important word there). You could go and read other ops on Star Wars but just in case your are too lazy (I know I would be) I’ll try and précis it for you: IV Luke Skywalker is a farm boy, Obi Wan an old wizard, events conspire - they meet up with a smuggler and get a ship to a planet that has been blown up by the time they get there, they rescue a princess who takes them to another planet where they blow up a huge Death Star. V A bunch of rebels flee a planet, the farm boy goes to the jungle and learns mystical powers, His father tortures his mates so that he tries to rescue them but the smuggler is frozen and taken to a gangsta. VI Everyone tries to rescue the smuggler and fails, but the farm boy is now a wizard and saves the day. They go off to ...

Are monarchy and democracy incompatible? 06/05/2002

We are not amused- off with his head

Are monarchy and democracy incompatible? To first answer this question I feel that an amount of background should be covered. Background (as sponsored by Microsoft Encarta ;) Firstly Encarta has this to say (primarily about United Kingdom): "[The] British system of parliamentary government, [is] often referred to as the Westminster model. Originally a vehicle for royal authority, this system gradually evolved into a representative government and finally became a means through which democracy could be exercised." So it would seem that the current system has evolved from a design for monarchy to pass down control of "lesser" matters to a democratic form of government. Encarta says this about our government: "The United Kingdom is a parliamentary monarchy—that is, the head of state is a monarch with limited powers. Britain's democratic government is based on a constitution composed of various historical documents, laws, and formal customs adopted over the years." The last bit from Encarta (promise) about our Monarchy: "The British monarchy stands for the continuity of British history going back to Anglo-Saxon times, and today it serves as a figurehead for the state. In theory, the British monarch has enormous powers, but in reality those powers are limited and the Crown follows the dictates and advice of the ministers in Parliament." So the question of incompatibility must be broken down to several questions. 1. Is there any point in the Monarchy anymore? 2. Do we have complete democracy ... 24/04/2002

They think its all over - its just begun This website is for those fanatical about football, so much so that they “live football, eat football, breathe football” (but not necessarily drink cola) “Some people think football is a matter of life and death...I can assure them it is much more serious than that.” Bill Shankly, (Scottish footballer) 4 October (1981) I use this website at least once a week, normally on Mondays to check results and more importantly read or skim through the match reviews to see who scored or got assists so that I can check how well my fantasy football team is doing (very mediocre). I like this website because it simultaneously sports serious football news along with little games, jokes, and similar trivialities. The main page is quite busy with adverts in the banner across the top, a main menu down the left (with a search), results down the right hand side, a list of top stories just below the top advert banner, the features (like look-alikes, transfer gossip etc) and everything else in the middle. Regular features Look-alikes: a usually humorous comparison between a footballer / manager etc and anyone else. There are literally hundreds of these as they do one a day. Mediawatch: Lots of snippets, mostly from news sources. F365 Shop: Buy t-shirts and other goodies. Transfer Gossip: It does exactly what it says on the tin. Skive of the day: Excuses for work so that you can watch the world cup in Japorea (Japan & Korea) Picture Gags: Topical ...

Ocean's Eleven (DVD) 09/04/2002

A classic remade classically.

Ocean's Eleven (DVD) I recently found out, after I'd seen this film that it was, like several films recently, a remake of an older film. I know nothing of that film so please forgive my ignorance of it now. I went to see Oceans Eleven last week for many reasons, not all of them good. Firstly I went to the cinema, I went because I had a free ticket from the back of the Sugar Puffs packet. And as an ex-student I couldn't resist using it out. So I popped down to the new cinema in Maidenhead (as the one in Slough wasn't running the promotion.) As usual I was late, this time because I read my new fangled analogue watch (what can I say I'm a techie ;) incorrectly - What a blunder. So I couldn't see the showing of Blade II which is I am ashamed to say is the film I was intending on seeing. So seeing as there were no films coming up, I went away had some food and came back later, this time however the next showing of Blade II was full! What a stupid mistake - why didn't I book the ticket before I went to get something to eat? Possibly because I was destined to see it. So I'd best get to the film as you are all wondering whether this review is about Oceans Eleven or not. Needless to say I new next to nothing about this film apart from the fact that it had George in a tux in it. What is it all about? --------------- ------- Mr Ocean, played ably by George Clooney is a conman, a thief, basically a sophisticated scoundrel, (I'm thinking Lando Calrissian, but that's just me). He's just come out of ...

Silver Ski 11/03/2002

Watch out for me in the next winter olympics

Silver Ski WebSite ---------- Two weeks ago I was in the Alps learning to ski. How I wish I could go back. I couldn’t really ski before I went, the only skiing prior to that was a couple of trips to dry slopes over 10 years ago. Booking -------- My sister organized this trip for me, and in total there were 10 of us. So I have no idea how the booking procedure went. I’m pretty sure that she didn’t have any problems and they were ok when she rang them up to ask for more info. Flights ------- This was a JMC charter flight from Gatwick to Lyon. Both flights were early – 6:30 and 9:30 so not only did we have to get up early but once on the plane we were given a rather rank looking breakfast which included baked beans (much to my consternation) also we noticed that there wasn’t a vegetarian option. The only other complaint was that on the return flight we were stuck in this, what looked to be, aircraft hanger that served as gates 9 and 10 rather than being in the main building and hence the variety of facilities was limited. Arrival -------- After a long 2 hours coach ride – including some harrowing switch back mountain pass driving. The bus was old and really not very pleasant, not having a toilet or a TV. We stopped once at a place where we could only go to the loo and not eat or drink since there were no facilities to purchase either food or drink. We arrived at about 1pm at La Plagne 1800 (so called because it was indeed at 1800m). We ...
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