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musicmaker2904

musicmaker2904

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since 11/01/2005

13

Member Advice on Chain Hotels: Travel Lodge Hotels 28/01/2005

Great Value, No Cleanliness Compromise!

Member Advice on Chain Hotels: Travel Lodge Hotels I booked a room on the internet to stay in the Travel Lodge on Broad Street in Birmingham and, at only £26 a night for a family room (they were out of doubles) I was a little dubious about how it would turn out. Luckily all of my doubts were misplaced! THE BOOKING PROCESS The website for travellodge is well set-out. You simply enter the dates of your stay and the town you want to stay in and the rest is easy. The interface even states in huge letters at the top of the page if there is a £26 per night special offer room available. Luckily I managed to get one of the last family rooms on the offer (I ideally wanted a double but they only had smoking doubles left). I paid there and then with my credit card, job done! RECEPTION AREA The reception area had clearly has a recent facelift - nice new wooden floors and a changing-rooms-style paint job. The mini-bar was also located in this area along with some soft chairs and a TV. In fact, it looked more like a trendy cafe than a hotel reception as it overlooked the street. STAFF The staff at the reception were very polite when we arrived and maintained this for the entirity of our visit. They made converstaion about how our travel had been and asked if we were going to 'the concert' tonight (we were, I will post a separate review under 'Velvet Revolver - Contraband' about the concert). When we decided we were hungry we asked reception and they gave us a local pizza takeaway menu. They even let us use the ...

Paris - Charles de Gaulle (CDG) 17/01/2005

Charles de Tester of le Patience!

Paris - Charles de Gaulle (CDG) An interesting point to note is that Charles De Gaulle was quite well known for his dislike of the English!:) Anyway, jokes aside, I flew to this airport last summer for a short holiday at Disneyland Paris (I have placed a flight review under 'BMI Baby') and, like at most airports, the experience was not pleasant! CHECK-IN For the return leg of the journey was somewhat confusing. The check-in hall is vast and, like most of the airport, seems to work in a sort of circle. The main problem was that there was not sufficient space to queue. Whichever way the queue wen away fromt he desk it seemed to stick out into a busy area, with frustrated travellers desperately trying to navigate the airport with huge trolleys of cases. In additiion to the queuing problem there was a general lack of seating in this area. The result was a mess of people generally laid around the floor or propped up against the walls. However, this was the area in which the staff were at their most polite. When I asked (with many gestures and a lot of the wrong French words) where to buy a drink from, the man was very helpful and pointed me in the right direction, his english wasn;t great but it was considerably better than my French and why do we English always think that people should know our language anyway?;) Amidst all of the confusion and poor conditions we managed to check-in anyway. DEPARTURE LOUNGE This was the area where the airport really went downhill. The number of shops ...

BMI Baby Airlines 17/01/2005

Cheap and Cheerful!

BMI Baby Airlines BMI baby are one of the many 'low-cost' airlines that fly to many destinations across Europe. The flight that I took was from East Midlands Airport in Leicestershire UK to Charles de Gaulle Airport at the centre of Paris. It was scheduled to take approximately 50mins and was booked as part of a package holiday to disneyland paris with Ledger travel (owned by Airtours). (I cannott, therefore, comment on the booking of the flight, as the travel agent did this for us). The outward flight was scheduled for about 11am and the return for about 4pm. I believe that tickets for the flights that we were on cost approximately £60 each way including taxes, but this may have differed depending on when and how the ticket was booked. CHECK IN The staff at check-in were very helpful and check-in was a very fast process. Three baggage windows were open and the staff were polite at all times. There was no fancy logo on the check-desk and the staff 'uniform' was just a blue t-shirt, but I never thought that things like that were particularly important. We gave the man our passports and tickets and he gave us a choice of available seats, we could all sit together. We were given a boarding pass and went through to the departure lounge. We then went through the usual procedure of boarding which was very effeicient. THE PLANES At this price, I did not expect to fly in an amazing and immaculately clean plane...all that I expected was a relatively comfortable seat on an average ...

Trent-Barton Buses 17/01/2005

Trent Barton - A Real Mixed Bag

Trent-Barton Buses I live on the outskirts of Nottingham and, as i have no car, busses are often the only way I can get around. The ONLY bus service that operates through my area is Trent Barton (the rainbow 4 service and the 15, 18/32 and commuter express services). It is fair to say that travelling with Trent Barton is like playing the lottery, if you get lucky things are very good....but if you aren't lucky it can be really frustrating. For example, here's a little itinery of two days this week when I used Trent Barton. DAY ONE Arrive at the bus stop five minutes before the bus is due. Having waited fifteen minutes two busses arrive at once, I wave the bus down and the ask the driver for my fare, he utters not a word, gives me a ticket and change. The bus is full and I am forced to stand for the entire journey, it is also unbearably hot. The 25minute trip to town actually takes 50MINUTES!! A combination of the delay and the late bus mean I miss my train......very frustrating. DAY TWO I arrive five minutes before the timetabled time to catch the same bus. The bus arrives exactly on time, the driver is friendly and greets me as I step onto the bus. She takes my fare and thanks me when I hand the money over. the journey takes the right amount of time and the bus neither full nor empty. A brilliant service. It really is difficult to know what you are getting when you travel with this company. PRICE Another problem with TrentBarton is the price of travel. As I am at ...

Midland Main Line 17/01/2005

Midlands Only Line......

Midland Main Line I catch the train almost everyday from Nottingham to Leicester and 9 times out of 10 I get a Midland Mainline train. Although they have improved somewhat recently, (this review is of the IMPROVED service, not the older, poorer service) my experiences with them have not always been good, however, I will try and keep this review as positive as possible. POSITIVE The free tea and coffee is a great idea as it costs the company very little but tends to make customers very happy! THE TRAINS The fleet of trains is now modern (on the whole) and spacious. The High Speed Trains are from the 1980s (I think) but have almost all been refurbished to a very high standard. The toilets are sometimes dirty and nearly always blocked, but otherwise these trains cannott be complained about. The New Meridian trains replace the old Turbostar fleet and they have improved the punctuality of the company a great deal due to their higher speed. The seat pitch is almost airline style and the seats themselves have a similar theme. However, the door sensors have broken and it takes a lot of strength to stop them from trapping you...not good for disbaled or elderly travellers. FREQUENCY The high speed trains run from Nottingham once every hour at half past the hour with an intermediate service at about 50minutes past....but the return trains seem to operate randomly. This makes it very difficult to plan a journey without a thorough knowledge of the timetable. GOOD VALUE ...

Disney's Animal Kingdom 14/01/2005

Where Animals Roam......

Disney's Animal Kingdom Disney's Animal Kingdom is refreshing change from the usual theme-park format. Its a lot more laid-back than the other Disney Parks and the emphasis is on entertainment and education rather than thrills and spills! HIGHLIGHTS FOR THE KIDS 'Camp Minnie-Mickey' is where the disney characters 'live' and can be met for autographs and the like. Theres usually someone out and about, and if not there is a timetable telling you when there WILL be characters around. Its usually a pretty quiet area too, with lots of areas to sit and relax. FOR THE BIG KIDS 'It's tough to be a bug' is an excellent 4D simulator style-ride. Young kids will probably find this very scary but its an incredibly clever ride, as animated bugs fly around you and you feel them scurry behind you on the seats. A very memorable ride!! 'Dino-land USA' is great for kids of al ages. The play area is second to none, but beware the DINOSAUR ride as, whilst it is a perfectly good ride and very enjoyable, it did make many in our party feel quite ill. This zone does feel out of place in the park, but it should not be missed! Also, make sure you see the Tarzan Rocks show....ok it isn;t really 'rock' but its still pretty good, and the extreme skaters (dressed as monkeys) do some excellent stunts! FOR THE OLDER PERSON 'The Oasis' is a lush 'jungle' habitat filled with tropical birds and colourful plants. Its fantatsic for photo opportunities and provides some vital shade from the sun! it also contains ...

Disney's Magic Kingdom 14/01/2005

All Ages Will Have Fun here!

Disney's Magic Kingdom I will never forget the first time I went to Disney's Magic Kingdom in Orlando. The combination of excellent rides, fantastic shows and well themed lands if absolutely unforgettable and I would recommend it to anyone, young, old or middle-aged! HIGHLIGHTS FOR THE KIDS Younger kids will love meeting the disney characters! Go to the old town hall to see when they will be around and take an autograph book, yeah, it might just be guy in a suit to the older kids, but the younger ones will never foget the 'day they met mickey mouse'!...beware though, kids that are TOO young may get a bit scared by a giant mouse and duck walking around....i don;t know why myself ;)! The parades (which change frequently) are must-sees for the younger ones, especially the night-parade, but theymight get impatient waiting, so take them something to keep them entertained if you decide to go. FOR THE BIG KIDS Disney is often seen as a little-kids theme park, but in my opinion this couldn;t be further from the truth! 'Space Mountain' is a first class roller-coaster which lauches you at 60mph around a stunning track, with planets passing you by. It may be a lot tamer than the Paris version, but its still worth the wait. 'Spalsh Mountain' is a great water ride. It starts quite tamely, with some nice scenery and animal puppets but soon turns uo the fear factor on a steep 7-storey drop that is sure to soak you through....a nice feeling n the hot Florida weather. 'Big Thunder ...

Donkey Konga (GameCube) 14/01/2005

BonGO-CRAZY! Original AND Fun!

Donkey Konga (GameCube) Nintendo has been at the forefront of innovative gaming for many years now and whilst this has often led to accusations of 'gimmickiness' I belive that the company release both original and consistantly brilliant games. Donkey Konga enshrines these qualities brilliantly and the word 'gimmick' certainly couldn't be more out of place in this review. THE BASIC IDEA The basic idea of the game is to use the bongo's to play along to the tunes (there's something you didn;t know!)...basically a series of symbols fly across the screen and as they pass the target you have to hit the approproate bongo or clap. Its that simple, and simplicity is brilliance. The range of songs is excellent and will suit practically all tastes with everything from 'All the Small Things' to '99 red Balloons'! But you don;t have to know the songs to play along, the songs are equally fun whether you know them or not. LONGEVITY longevity is assured by the unlockable modes and mini-games that come from collecting coins in the single-player modes. You can also purchase extra sounds for your bongos! (my favourites are the animal noises!) Great fun! MULTIPLAYER Even though i only have one set of bongo's, multiplayer is incredible fun! You can either work together to 'jam' and complete a song to work against each other to get the most points. both of them are hilarious, expecially on the harder modes when everyone just ends up hittiing frantically to try and keep up, it great!! ANY PROBLEMS ...

Splinter (Parental Advisory) [PA] - Offspring (The) 14/01/2005

Criminally Under-rated but not their best!

Splinter (Parental Advisory) [PA] - Offspring (The) When I read on the Offspring website that their drummer had left i worried that the band just wouldn't be the same, luckily, I was wrong. OVERALL SOUND The new drummer (atom) is a lot more straightforward than his predecessor and sounds a lot more (old school punk), I think they used session musicians for the album, but atom's style is very much in line with this. The overall effect is a shift away from pop (albeit only a slight shift) and a move into a more punky style. This doesn;t mean, however, that the things that make the offspring great aren;t there, they definately are! The lyrics are, on the whole, catchy and interesting. The production job is slick, as usual and the use of electronic loops (not very punk i know) makes the old offspring formulae more interesting. STANDOUT TRACKS 'Hit That' (predictably the first single) is a tongue-incheek look at underage pregnancy... the video may use dogs to hide this, but lets face it the song aint about dogs!! 'The Noose' is really waht the offspring are all about...all neatly packaged in one song. Great guitar riffs, fast pace, singalong chorus's and lots of 'wo-hos'!...You'll be singing this one in your head for years! 'Da Hui' is the closest to old-school punk the offspring will ever get, clocking in at 1minute and 42seconds and never breathing from start to finish!! its good to know that when I get to fourty I still stand some chance of been able to play fast!! '(Can't Get My) head Around You' - ...

Linkin Park - Live in Texas (DVD) 13/01/2005

Great Value+Performance.Unpolished and brilliant!

Linkin Park - Live in Texas (DVD) Having seen linkin park twice before I was excited at the prospect of a new live release, but I was also concerned that the full power of the band might not be acurately captured on a dvd. Luckily the DVD captures the performance well and is excellent both musically and aesthetically. The CD is useful for those of us who aren;t lucky enough to have cinema sound and still want good quality stereo sound! In my opinion live shows are always beter than over-produced albums as they capture a band as they truly are. And this double package of a 12track CD and a 17track DVD is a good value for money way to see Linkin Park without the £40 concert ticket price tag!! The DVD picture quality is crisp and the sound quality on both the CD and DVD are difficult to fault. The musicianship is great and the sound is balanced well (especially for an outdoor concert)! The band is also slightly heavier live than recorded, so great if you prefer Rock to Pop. HIGH-LIGHTS The opener (Don't Stay) sounds ferocious and sets the tone for the rest of the concert well. The addition to One Step Closer before the final cries of 'shut up when I'm talking to you' proves that Linkin Park are capable of writing and developing excellent material. LOW-LIGHTS The out of tune vocals from Chester Bennington on Papercut. The fact that the CD does not include Don't Stay, or many of the other excellent songs that make Linkin Park the great band that they are. The DVD doesn;t have many special ...

Epiphone Slash Les Paul Classic Electric Guitar 13/01/2005

The Slash CLASSIC ROCK Sound in Guitar Form

Epiphone Slash Les Paul Classic Electric Guitar When Gibson and Epihphone got together to do a dual-launch of Slash Signature Guitars I was dubious at first. Would epiphone be able to capture a sound that comes from a over1100 pound guitar in a sub 500pound package? The answer is an astounding YES! BUILD/LOOKS the first thing I noticed when I picked up this guitar was how reasuringly solid it felt. You get the feeling that if you threw this guitar off of a cliff it would still be playable afterwards! the dimensions of the guitar are well thought-out and it sits evenly on the lap. the shape of the body and the density of the wood also give it an amazing sound (which I will address later). The high frets are not particulary easy to access though, due to the shape of the body. the glued-in neck gives the guitar an incredible sustain and contributes to the solid feel of the instrument. the colour of the finish (cherry red?) and the way that it has been applied means that this is by far the most attractive epiphone guitar out there!! You will look INCREDIBLE on stage with this thing!! The neck has the same finish as the body making a very pleasant and place to rest your thumb. it is also very easy to manouver due to the slickness of the finish, so good for dive-bombs and sudden position shifts. It is important to note, however, that the fret is very wide!! this is not ideal for those with small hands! SOUND The low end sound on this guitar is incredible, i have never payed a sub-500pound guitar with better ...

Marshall MG50DFX 13/01/2005

Great for practice and gigging alike

Marshall MG50DFX The Marshall MG50dfx is a great solid state amp with many of the Marshall TM benefits at a reasonable price. SOUND DISTORTED CHANNEL When I got this amp home (which took a lot of strength and three bus seats!), the first thing I tried was the distorted channel and i couldn't believe how great the sound was! i use an Epiphone les Paul and the amp works well with its low end 'chunky' sound. The sound is full and well rounded and the dials actually make a difference to it. The 'reverb' dial gives the sound an incredible lift, although it takes time to get the sound you want, but that is only because the range of available sounds is so large! The "Contour" Dial replaces the typical 'middle' dial on this amp and this can be a blessing or a curse. it is a blessing only once you have got to grips with how it works, before this stage though it does well in trying the patience. You will need to persevere to get used to this feature. CLEAN CHANNEL The clean channel has a completely different character to the distorted channel, which is unusual considering the fact that it runs through the same speaker! The sound on this channel is warmer and EXCELLENT for blues soloing and arpegiated chords. It can be difficult, however, to stop the sound from 'clunking' when strumming full chords, so it isn't great for Oasis fans and the like. The channel works well with the distorted channel, as the volume of each channel can be altered seperately to the overall ...

Squier Stratocaster Electric Guitar 11/01/2005

one of the best 'entry level' guitars out there!

Squier Stratocaster Electric Guitar I bought my Squier Strat over seven years ago and I still have it (along with several other guitars) and play it today. Its lasted so long in my guitar collection because it is a well made and pleasant sounding instrument. CONSTRUCTION The body is well finished and the rosewood fingerboard and neck are hard to tell apart from the £500plus official Fender version! I had to have the pickup switch replaced after five years, but for a budget switch that was used almost everyday this is very good! The guitar is relatively light, so good if you tire easily or want to gig/jam stood up. The guitar is cosmetically excellent. You will not get a guitar at this price that mimics the Fender Stratocaster so well and is made to such a high standard! SOUND The guitar sounds best through the clean channel of my (marshall) amp. For a single-coil guitar there is very little pickup 'buzz' and the choice of three pickups gives it a large range of varying sounds. The Tone dials do not effect the tone greatly, but the volume is very sensitive and allows for good sound control. PROBLEMS As with most guitars that do not have a 'locking-trem' system, the squier goes drastically out of tune when the tremolo arm is used, this doesn't bother me because I don't actually use the arm but it may hinder those that do. The sound from the guitar sometimes sounds slightly harsh or flat through the distortion channel on my amp, so I use a multi-effects pedal to rectify this. Apart from ...
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