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Hi all, I am really trying my best to get the hang of this, please let me know if I need to return your rate and I will do so ASAP, I promise :)

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since 13/05/2008


Germany 31/05/2012

The paciest team in the tournament with some great individuals

Germany Germany have always had a reputation as a dour and unexciting team who teutonically battle through games either winning with a workmanlike performance or on penalties, well all that changed after the World Cup of 2006 held on German soil, when Jurgen Klinnsmann's side turned stereotypes on their head and the whole nation seemed to really let themselves go and enjoy the experience. Under Joachim Loew Germany have developed a style of play that isn't as fluid as the Spanish team, but they have more direction and pace in attacking positions offering options which Spain can’t match. They have easily the hardest group in the tournament playing Holland, Portugal and Denmark, but they should progress. Enclosed is a team summary Goalkeeper In Manuel Neuer, Germany have the best young goalkeeper in the world, Neuer is a leader and a formidable last line of defence, strong on crosses, great a stopping shots and physically imposing in one on one situations. Neuer is vocal and demanding and rubs many opposition players (And German fans) up the wrong way), but he is a winner and gives confidence to the ten men in front of him. Defence The weakest area for this wonderfully attacking team, Jerome Boateng is a strong yet limited defender, Per Metersecker has steadied the ship at Arsenal but his clear weakness is his lack of pace, while Matts Hummel is a solid and industrious player who often spends his time covering for either Metersecker or Boateng, Phillip Lahm is still probably the ...

Baby Bjorn Baby Carrier 27/05/2012

Good but not quite as great as we'd hoped

Baby Bjorn Baby Carrier The Baby Bjorn is recognised as probably the best baby carrier on the market, the Babybjorn Baby carrier original offers two different ways to carry babies up to 11kg (This should work out around 13-15 months old). Looks When limp on the floor it just looks like a lot of black straps but when set up on a mother or father it looks pretty cool, with a strong support area for babies bottom, decent space for legs, movable straps to adapt as baby grows bigger and a good neck rest. Looks wise it is black, entirely bland, but very professional, it doesn't matter if you have a boy or girl it looks the same, unoffensive, professional and sturdy. The Two Styles When baby is very young and can't support their head the Baby Bjorn is best used with the neck rest up and baby facing the carrier, this is very secure for baby, supports their neck and allows the parent lots of mobility in doing other things whilst looking after baby, it also offers baby the comfort of having a parent or guardian close to them, the security of feeling their warm chest is apparently very reassuring. As baby gets bigger (around 6 months) and they can hold their head up, you can switch the baby bjorn round so they still put their legs and arms through the available holes but face forwards meaning they can see everything and really enjoy being out and about more, just as their senses dictate they want to know more about everything. Both modes are good, I liked the early mode as I knew baby was secure, I ...

Lamaze Play & Grow Patty The Panda 31/12/2011

Pandas don't have eyebrows!

Lamaze Play & Grow Patty The Panda I’ve been studying this for a little while now and Lamaze really do put so much thought into their toys. Patty the play and grow panda could easily just be a little bear for baby to cuddle, but this is so much more and really helps develop babies senses and skills. Our little one loves it as a bear, as a pram toy and as a punchbag and toy to bite, this is a lot for such a small toy, while it is £15, I wouldn’t baulk at this as it is very good value for the quality and longevity of the product. Where to Buy it Patty is available from a variety of toy and development stores, we bought from Amazon for £14.99 as the delivery and reliability was key for us, but it is available in most toy and baby stores also. Appearance Without being shallow, Patty is beautiful from head to toe. She has a white hook above her head which allows her to be latched onto your pram or tripper, then she has two small black ears with purple and orange cellophane centres which make a crinkly noise every time you touch them. She has eyebrows which are unusual for a panda and big dark eyes. Patty is either very fashion conscious with rouged cheeks, or slightly embarrassed at all times. She has a small nose and mouth (eyes nose and mouth aren’t external so your little one couldn’t pick those off or hurt themselves). Patty has two black arms, one holding three flowers, made of crinkly cellophane and the other holding a band with three small hard toys for teething, she has a white belly and a ...

Scrabble 28/12/2011

An all time classic

Scrabble Scrabble, what's it all about? Scrabble is still one of the most popular and best loved games in the world despite the onset of computers, I-pads and whatever else. Scrabble is a classic word based board game for 2 to 4 people where each player has 7 letter tiles, with these they must place them on the board forming real words and then receive scores based on the commonness of the letters used, the use of special squares on the board which can double or treble the score or other denominators. Scrabble is a classic game, it has been played in this country for ages and I first learnt to play with my Grandad alongside chess and draughts. The box hasn't changed much in over 4 decades, the box I bought is very similar to the immaculate box my Grandad still owns, I guess this longevity shows that this game is a real bargain for the price, in terms of how long it can last if you take care of it. Available for £12.99 on Amazon or from Toys R'us, this really is a great game for people who have a lot of time on their hands, we've taken it on family holidays packed in a bag with the board being folded and also use it with friends when they visit and the Xbox seems anti-social to use. How does it look The box itself is reasonably large and would need a reasonable amount of space to store in a cupboard, it includes within it, the classic board, 1 x Scrabble board, 100 letter tiles, which are 98 letters and two blanks, an instruction booklet, 4 tile racks for the players to hold their ...

Hasbro Boggle Classic 26/12/2011

Mind-Bogglingly good fun

Hasbro Boggle Classic Boggle is a really interesting word game, much like the quiz in the Sun newspaper, it provides you with 16 letters and asks you to make as many words as you can with those letters within a set time period which is designated by a cool old fashioned sand timer. How does it work? The letters are based on cubes and at the start of each turn, one player shakes the boggle cube containing the 16 dice cubes, when they finally land in their squares you start choosing words based on the letters which are available. You have to make as many words as you can within the time it takes for the sand timer to run down. The boggle cubs is cool as you can push down on it to make the cubes randomly spring up like dice and it allows you to change the letters for each new game, the board is small and easy to put in a bag or a car for long journeys. We sometimes have it in the car and my other half will advise me of the letters whilst i'm driving and we play the game on the move. It is a really simple buy enjoyable and challenging concept. All you need for the game is a pen and pad for each player and somebody who can judge that people aren't cheating. Although I would also recommend a dictionary for when disputes develop and that the 'somebody' is a person who is entirely impartial and doesn't have any vested interest. My View The game is great fun for all the family, but can also be played alone and is excellent for people planning to expand their vocabulary. I've had it since my 9th ...

Lamaze My Friend Emily 20/12/2011

A Five Star Toy for my baby

Lamaze My Friend Emily Lamaze my friend Emily was bought as a present for us, it is currently available from Amazon for £7.21 and is worth much more than that for us. My Friend Emily follows the familiar theme of Lamaze toys, it offers a variety of ways for baby to be stimulated, bright colours, interesting textures and sounds, this has been a toy our little one adored and still adores to this day. Looks Emily is a pretty little thing with rosy cheeks and a bright smile, she has a sun hat and a necklace with little balls in which rattles when you shake her, her dress hem is made of scrunchy material that little ones love and she is a beautiful little toy with real personality. How to use her We use her generally either as a toy for our babies play mat or we use the clip and attach her to the pram as a pram toy when we go out, our little one loves the scrunchy dress hem and the rattle of her necklace, she loves biting her too although I'm not sure that was what she was designed for. Why to buy her I would suggest if you want your child to feel, hear and see interesting things in a toy, Emily is a must, she is slightly effeminate for a little boy but for little girls is the perfect first dolly, her soft material makes it easy for baby to hold and cuddle, her clip makes her portable and easy to drop into a pram or baby gym, she rattles, she scrunches, she holds some rings which our little one loved to chew when teething and is generally one of the best all purpose toys we bought. She is ...

Lamaze Eddie the Elephant tunes 17/12/2011

Smelly the Elephant

Lamaze Eddie the Elephant tunes Lamaze Eddie the Elephant is a fun and enjoyable toy for babies from 6 months onwards, it combines beautiful design, a really interesting combination of materials and music and the ability to make music easily. it is educational and well worth purchasing as children develop their ability to touch and hear. What does it look like The elephant is about 6 inches high, it is blue with patchwork ears which are crinkly and fun for baby to feel and play with, they also work brilliantly as handles for baby to carry their new toy around with. The elephant has two big cartoon eyes, soft tusks, different coloured and textured feet to give baby more stimulation and a nose with different musical keys on it, which allow you to press them to make different noises. On one foot is the ability to play different songs including 'baa baa black sheep' on the other is the ability to play the previous notes you push on the elephants nose, push the icon on each foot to make the magic happen. Does it work I've had lots of fun with it personally, playing tunes and finding lots of things to do with it, although i'm sure you are more interested in how our little one enjoyed using it. If I am being honest we bought it from birth as advised but a newborn baby is too small to find this anything other than intimidating until they are at least 6-7 months when they are co-ordinated enough to press the buttons and enjoy what they have done, so don't expect anything before then. It looks great, ...

Tiny Deaths - Robert Shearman 16/12/2011

Short stories about death and the art of living

Tiny Deaths - Robert Shearman Tiny Deaths was the first short story collection released by Rob Shearman, a truly diverse and eclectic writer who has previously written stories for the Doctor Who television series. I first read about this collection in Total Film in 2008, but only bought the book about 6 months ago, as I always seem to prevaricate and hold out on the books I really want, perversely to avoid reading them and having that feeling that I will no longer wonder how good they are. Tiny Deaths is the precursor to the exceptional 'Love Songs for the shy and cynical' which I purchased and read first funnily enough. Whilst 'Love Songs' concentrates on short stories about love in all its forms, Tiny Deaths looks at death in a number of odd and twisted ways which sometimes make your brain hurt they are so complex and smart. The book was a worthy winner of the World Fantasy Award for Best Collection 2008, and was shortlisted for the Edge Hill Short story Prize as well as being on the longer list for the Frank O'Connor Short Story Prize in the same year. In French, Le Petit Mort translates as the small or tiny death and relates to orgasm, this isn't relevant here at all, but I felt it was nonetheless an interesting footnote. So onto the book, it is difficult to know where to start with such an exceptional piece of fiction, do I recount each story for you with a vague summary or simply offer an overview which very badly explains the vague connection between the stories. I'd really like you all ...

Killers (DVD) 26/11/2011

A poor man's Knight and Day

Killers (DVD) Jen Kornfeldt(Katherine Heigl) is a heart broken woman, she travels to the French Riviera with her parents after a sudden break up and meets Spencer Amies (Ashton Kutcher) a man so perfect there should be a picture of him next to the word in the dictionary. They fall in love and marry, three years after their first meeting they have a party to celebrate their life together with all of their lovely friends and neighbours, however the next day Jen’s world falls apart as everyone she knows starts trying to kill her and her husband, could it be something they said, or is it because Spencer was previously an international spy and a hit has been put out on his head? The Cast The cast of this film is very B-Movie, Ashton Kutcher continues to show his charm and good looks, but still fails to deliver any substance to a performance, as ever he is watchable and likeable and builds enjoyable repartee with his female co-star, but there isn’t anything else there. Katherine Heigl seems to always play morally indignant women, she does it again here, sassy, smart and yet ever so slightly anal, she is a foil to the relaxed and yet coiled Kutcher and their double act is both easy on the eye and easily enjoyable whilst having the substance of a fried ant. I do feel for her in a way but then think that she probably earnt more making this film than I will make in the next 20 years and then don’t really, the selection of Heigl and Kutcher for a film shows the limited scope for dramatic ...

A Single Man (DVD) 09/10/2011

Just get through the goddamn day.

A Single Man (DVD) A Single man is a remarkable film, for two reasons, firstly because this is the directorial debut of Tom Ford, a man renowned for a superb sense of style, it is also remarkable for the central performance of Colin Firth who continues to evolve into one of the most interesting and accomplished actors of his generation. Firth won the BAFTA for best actor in 2010 for this film and was also nominated rightly for an Oscar, the film didn’t break any box office records but was widely regarded as an interesting and stylish character study that was both emotive and wonderfully acted. Plot Set on a single day in November 1962, George Falconer (Colin Firth) is an Englishman in Los Angeles, teaching English at college. He is an outwardly inward character, giving little away and maintaining that wonderful British stiff upper lip and sense of decorum that we used to be so renowned for, however inside he is a mess of emotions and ideas. Struggling to come to terms with the death of his partner Jim (Matthew Goode) who died 8 months earlier in a car accident. George decides that life isn’t worth living without Jim and on 30 November 1962 decides to put his estate and everything else in order and kill himself. The film follows George on this last day as he spends time reminiscing about his love affair with Jim, spends time with his best friend Charley (Julianne Moore), is followed by a schoolboy with a crush (Nicholas Hoult) and meets an attractive and vacant Spanish gigolo/actor. ...

Toy Story 3 (DVD) 07/10/2011

You've got a friend in me

Toy Story 3 (DVD) Introduction Toy Story 3 is the third instalment in one of the most successful animated film franchises in history, created by Pixar animation; this was the first of the three films to be developed in 3D and was originally shown in I-Max Cinemas. This is widely believed to be the final instalment in this successful film series and was the highest grossing film in the world in 2010, at 102 minutes it is the longest film in the series, but it flies by enjoyably with a plot heavy on action and double dealing and a cast who clearly love their characters as much as the audience do. Plot Woody, Buzz and the crew return, as their owner Andy prepares to head off to college, in doing so Andy is forced by his mother to decide whether to put his toys in the attic, take them with him or leave them for the local day care centre for kids. Due to a mix up the toys all end up in the local day care centre and meet another group of toys who on the face of it seem delighted to see them. As the plot unravels it becomes clear that the day care centre isn't quite the toy nirvana they had dreamed of and the gang plot their escape to return to Andy. The Cast The cast is a wonderful mix of the favourite characters from previous films and some new faces, as always the quality of the voice acting is exceptional. The difference between this and many other films is that nobody tries to show off or showboat, it has a real ensemble feel to it and the cast are all seasoned actors who seem to ...

Rachel Getting Married(DVD) 04/10/2011

To err is human, to love is divine

Rachel Getting Married(DVD) Rachel getting married is a film you are either going to absolutely love or hate, I loved it, perhaps because it is a little bit quirky and tried something a little bit different, it reaches out of the comfort zones inhabited by so many films which try to portray people with addictions, problems or personal difficulties and doesn't try to find answers, or resolve the problems, it simply accepts that the main protagonist had problems before the film, has the problems during the film and is still going to have them afterwards, no miracle cure, no amazingly stirring character transformation, just a plain honest dose of what it might be like watching an alcoholic released from rehab for her sister’s wedding, try to cope with her own insecurities and her reliance on alcohol to be anybody. What's it all about Well the title really does give this one away. Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt) is getting married to her beloved Sydney (Tunde Adebimbpe of the indie band 'Tv on the radio'), her parents hold the wedding in their beautiful idyllic house in the countryside and an eclectic band of friends and family arrive for the joyous day. All is perfect until Kym (Anne Hathaway) arrives, Kym is the younger sister of Rachel and is an alcoholic. She has been released from rehab to see her sister's special day, but she is clearly still very troubled and nowhere near the recovery phase. The film follows Kym and the wedding and deals with the issues Kym holds from her past as well as her ...

Inception (DVD) 25/09/2011

A Bona-Fide Classic

Inception (DVD) When I was younger I couldn't quite appreciate so much how people attached themselves to Directors, I thought it was all about the actors and the directors were just old people brought in to make the actors look good, I wondered why some people were mad about Scorcese or others about Kubrick. As I have grown older I can appreciate that a good director is actually the star of a film, settings its tone, its pace and giving it the personality to shine(or not) and their films can be easily differentiated from others. For me the films of Christopher Nolan are very much in that category. Along with Darren Aronofsky and Wes Anderson I think he is probably my favourite director at the moment and this film was a real joy and one which we immediately went out to buy on DVD. Nolan is a British Director of incredible talent, he has been behind films such as Batman Begins and the sequel 'The Dark Knight', the excellent 'The Prestige', and the innovative 'Memento', his films always seem to be somewhat dark, but require repeated viewings to fully appreciate the intricacies of the plot turns and smaller events that shape the entire story. He is also adept at creating imaginative worlds for his characters to inhabit. This film is a particularly breathtaking example of his work and really demands your attention from the opening shot. The film has grossed more than $820 million US Dollars worldwide and is considered by IMDB to be one of the top twenty films ever made, it is an ...

Arrested Development - Series 1 (DVD) 24/09/2011

One of the Great comedies of the last twenty years

Arrested Development - Series 1 (DVD) Arrested Development is a comedy based around the Bluth family a group of madcap self-obsessed indivduals whose patriach is arrested and they have to learn to cope without him. This is a special series, really funny, really intelligent and really underrated. There has been talk of Ron Howard making this into a feature film and it is getting big coverage in America. Please, please, please find a copy of this DVD and have the patience to watch it all the way through, you will be thoroughly rewarded with one of the funniest American tv series ever. This has been shown late night on the BBC for years and was cancelled in America because it couldn't match the effortless humour of programmes such as 'Joey', still it really is a treat for anyone who loves really great comedy. The cast will be brought together in 2012 to make a film which hopefully won't follow in the footsteps of other great sitcom/film crossovers like 'On the Buses' or 'Are you being served' but will do wonderful justice to this crackpot tale of a broken family who just don't realise it. The Characters Jason Bateman - Michael Bluth - Michael is the main character and possibly the only sensible (sane) member of the Bluth family, following his fathers arrest for fraud, Michael takes on responsibility for the family business as well as looking after the fragile members of his family. Michael Cera - George Michael Bluth - Michael's Son, George Michael is a sensitive and sensible teenager, who ...

El Secreto De Sus Ojos (The Secret in Their Eyes) (DVD) 23/09/2011

How do you live a life full of nothing?

El Secreto De Sus Ojos (The Secret in Their Eyes) (DVD) El Secreto de Sus Ojos won the best foreign film Oscar at the 2010 Academy awards beating a strong field including the excellent White Ribbon by Michael Haneke. Having watched both films, I can say it must have been a close run thing, but this is an excellent film and stands equal to Hurt Locker which was awarded film of the year overall also. Witten and directed by Juan Jose Campanella, an Argentine Director, for me it works perfectly as an evolution from his previous films 'El hijo de mi Novia' and 'Luna de Avellaneda', it works best as a thriller set in a difficult and challenging period of Argentina's history. It has won rave reviews in its home country for its brilliant story, cinematography and especially the attention to detail. As is often the case Campanella's main actor was also the star of these two films, he is probably Argentina's most famous actor and even though you might end up reading the subtitles throughout if your Argentine Spanish isn't strong, he has clear film star qualities, charisma, the ability to empathise with a script and the audience and he understands the directors style implicitly. The film is available for £5.49 on Amazon, its become more popular due to it's Oscar prize as well as word of mouth and excellent ratings on sites such as IMDB which rate it as one of the 200 greatest films of all time, If you can't find it online or in your local HMV you can also rent it from Lovefilm and I would implore you to do so, perhaps in conjunction ...
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