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Stephen Booth - Dancing with the Virgins I have only recently started to read books by Stephen Booth, I had seen them on the shelf but was never inspired enough by the blurbs or the cover, which in this case I was judging the book by. Then on a recent trip to the in laws I saw that my partners mother had the complete set and when asked rated them highly. I still had some unexplainable scepticism but with money being tight and the chance to have access to a whole load of books was too good to miss. I did first read the first book in this series, Black Dog, and although I felt it was a bit slow overall it was a good quality book and I wanted to keep on reading the series and give the author a fair chance. "Dancing with the Virgins" is set in the Peak District, in this case literally in the hills that are more or less the middle of nowhere. The book starts with us following a park ranger and his travels in the wilderness on his first day solo in the job, we then quickly change and start following the story of a youngish woman as she is cycling through those same hills on what for her is a regular trip. She likes to visit a certain spot in the hills called the Nine Virgins and I don't think I am going to spoil anything for anyone by stating the obvious that she is murdered (I'll leave how a mystery) and is found by the previously mentioned park ranger. This book actually has a pretty good and quick start compared to the opener of the series as I struggled to get going with that but had no problems with this. This story is played out through the same main character as used in Black Dogs, Ben Cooper. Ben Cooper is a policeman and as we see right from the off in this book he is a team player, at least in the context of his job he is. However he is living in the legacy left his father who was recently killed in the line of duty (comes before Black Dog) and feels that he needs to live up to the expectations of what his Dads son must be like. Ben is actually coping ok with that and is the local boy that everybody loves and he is so friendly and has such an in depth knowledge of the area, the kind of knowledge that would aid a police investigation into a murder that has taken place in the hills. He has several distractions throughout the case, an ill mother, a potential love interest and of course a kind of enemy from within the police force itself. The potential partner is of course the love interest from the first book, Helen, she featured in the first book and it appeared that things between these two stood a chance of going places and now they have a date arranged. Of course things are not going to be simple with Ben working on a murder case and of course there is always the other woman, well sort of. The enemy that I referred to is not so much an enemy as another member of the police force, in this case a policewomen who came in from the outside and stole his promotion. I feel that throughout the book Booth using a good mix of characters and they complement each other nicely and certainly help to make the book more than just a rubbish typical murder mystery which after reading 200 or so books in the genre get a bit boring. My only problem with the way that the book is written is that Stephen Booth likes his details and I mean really like his detail and I feel that this is the one thing the stops me from really relishing picking up this book. Sure I don't want every book to be like a James Patterson book which is normally over so quickly but I feel that this guy drones on and on a but unnecessarily and not in a way that is adding to the story, it is just like there is a word threshold that must be met and padding has been inserted to achieve this. In my opinion this would be a better read, a more enjoyable read and more approachable if some of the useless wordy stuff was removed, maybe I am just too young to appreciate the wordy bits (no offence intended towards the mother in law) but I find there are pages and pages where not a lot happens and I think if I had skipped them then I would not have taken anything away from the book. Maybe Stephen Booth is trying to do the opposite of CSI and make things seem more realistic whereby stuff happens at a more real life pace but this is not what you want in a book, well it is not what I want in a book, I want fast paced action with detail to match but not exceed the action. The above criticism is not to say that I didn't enjoy the book or that nothing at all happens because I did and it does. It is still a good read, you have intrigue, you have mystery, you have twists and of course you have murder I would just say it is not as easy on the mind or as thrilling as a lot of the other books out there on the book shelves. I must admit that I have not looked to see whether Stephen Booth is from but considering where the book is based I would suggest it is likely that it is in the Peak District and you really get the impression that the author knows this area well and know his way round. The lay of the land is laid out really nicely to the reader and you get a good feel of where you are supposed to be. Overall this is a good book but I was left skimming little bits due to some of the 550 pages that have been published (at least in the version I have) in a fairly small font. I would probably enjoy this book more if it was not this long due to too much detail. Bearing in mind that I had free access to this book I am pleased with it, I am however happy with my initial assessment in the shop and if I had purchased this for the RRP then I would have been disappointed and I probably won't be buying any Stephen Booth books.
I am going to base my review of Sussex Cricket Club on my experiences there over the last 2 years, sadly not as a player which if I was anywhere need good enough I would love but as a spectator and more recently as a member. I am a huge fan of cricket and love to go and see my local team, the mighty Sussex, they are based at the County Ground in Hove, which although not one of the biggest grounds around the country has a reasonable capacity and in my opinion a great atmosphere. In the one day format Sussex are known as the Sussex Sharks, watch out for Sid. The History: For anyone that doesn't know which I imagine is most people Sussex have been a relatively unsuccessful club at least until that last 10 years or so, the millennium struck and the Sharks rose from the depths to demolish everyone in their sights. They won the county championship 3 times in 2003, 2006 and 2007 with a lot of gratitude to Mushtaq Ahmed who played fantastically and went a long way to win those matches and titles. They were also promoted from division 2 in 2001 and 2010, though of course this also means they were relegated in the preceding years just to bounce right back up. At the same time as this they also were hugely successful in the one day format of the game where they won the Friends Provident Title in 2006, the Pro 40 Tournament in 2008 and 2009 and the newest format Twenty20 in 2009 making that decade surely the decade of the Shark, grrr. The Stadium/ The Pitch and the Members: The County ground is, as I previously said, pretty small and I can say this with some confidence having been to both Lords and the Oval which are huge grounds that host international games. It may be small but it also has a very close nit feel you are always near to the ground and the players and constantly wonder whether the next big six is coming in your direction so you need to be prepared to catch it. The pitch itself, at least as well an amateur like me can tell, is pretty decent; most of the scores seem to be pretty competitive but not so high that results cannot be achieved in a four day game. The whole atmosphere of the place and the enjoyment of the game are enhanced by being a member, you get to sit with other members that you therefore know also love the game and in most cases the same team as you. It is great fun to chat with different people at different games and talk about the players and past performance, I have already talked about past performances so onto... The Players: Ok so there is not much that I can say about the players really, it is kind of cool when you can spot one of them from the other end of the ground and go yeah that's xxx and the person beside you has to pull out their binoculars and still isn't really sure if it is the right person. There have been loads of good players to visit Sussex while I have been there. For any cricket fans I have seen the likes of Alistair Cook, Marcus Trescothick, Dwayne Smith (who has hit some mighty sixes and taking some unbelievable catches not to mention the 4 wickets in an over) and of course how can I write this list without including the legend that is oh Monty Monty, Monty Monty Panesar. There have been more famous names, more international names than those I have mentioned but I think that those are the players that I have most appreciated seeing. The Food: Well as you can imagine the prices are crazy and why not after all once you are in you are in and that is it. I have to admit that we have indulged a few times, the hot dogs and burgers are nice, the ice creams are cold but even more overpriced than they should be but they cake is great. As members we have access to the Pavilion in which they sell extra little goodies like Cake and even some proper hot food like lasagne and casserole. Being a member is great. Overall: Overall it has been fantastic being a member of Sussex County Cricket Club and long may it continue hopefully with more success. I have enjoy the highs and the lows (not so much) and me and my partner have cherished the time we have spent together at these games, bring back the summer. My Favourite Cricketing Moments: -Dwayne Smith taking a great one handed catch on the boundary rope. -Ryan Sidebottom getting hit for 26 in an over. -My partner saying why are they bowling him when referring to Ollie Rayner as his best was 1 wicket for 20 runs or something, me saying that maybe he will get 2 today well I then thoroughly enjoyed watching him run through the opposition line up taking 5-16(or something like that). My favourite thing: -The hours and hours spent watching Sussex play whilst cuddling my partner who was keeping score and enjoying every second of it together.
My Best Christmas Present ever: What makes a good Christmas present? I don't think it is to do with money, I don't think it has to do with size it all comes down to the thought and the feeling behind the present. Growing up it was all about things being fair, did my parents spend as much on me as they did on my siblings and did I get bigger presents and more impressive presents that everyone else. I once got a Power Rangers Megazord that at the time I thought there was no way it could be beaten. Anyway over the years I have of course come to realise that there are much more important things than the Power Rangers, even if there aren't that many. So last year I really had no clue what to get from my parents, they are normally good at getting things and know me really well so know what I like. So last year I had been to lots and lots of cricket games, I love cricket and so does my partner, so last Christmas they ended up getting us membership for our local cricket team. This was a fantastic present that kept on giving, we went to so many games I really haven't kept count, we went to lots of the shorter format games (for those who don't know 20 and 40 over games) and looking back on the year some of these games and moment in these games are a real highlight and I really enjoyed going. It actually culminated in us going to a quarter final match of my team against the mother in laws team and whilst the game went the wrong way we introduced my mother in law, who is a huge fan of cricket, to live cricket and she loved the experience. At said quarter final we were being good and supporting both the home and away teams and so when the away team hit a 6 and we were waving our banners we ended up live on Sky Sports and this was recorded by my parents and is now in my possession and is going into my partners present that I will write about later as I think it is going to be the best present I have ever given. The above present however is probably the second best present I have ever had, the best one I have ever got was given to me also last year but by my partner. This time last year we were sort of living together, I had moved most of my stuff in and it was only really a matter of time before it was finalised and well at Christmas she gave me keys to her flat (I was living with my parents so we were only ever going to move into her place). This of course meant a lot, true we were already talking about getting engaged after only 3 months of dating (we were good friends before this) and did get engaged after 6 months and living together really cemented things in place. So yeah my best present ever was keys to the flat and moving in with my partner. The best present I have ever given though is hopefully going to be the one that I am giving to my partner this year. We are quite poor off at the moment, well poor may be not the right word but money is tight when you are saving for a wedding. So this year we set a cap on how much we can spend on each other (£25) and I had to ponder what I was going to do. My partner is a really sentimental person and so I wanted to make something that would be special to her and that she can keep forever. I ended up coming up with the idea of making her a scrap book type thing. In this I have stuck lots of memories from the build-up of our time together as friends and then since we have started going out and up until now. I have put in lots of text messages, e-mails, pictures and facebook status updates from friends and family that I thought she would like to see. I however thought that this was not enough and might be too simple, so I have decided to make her a DVD. The main focus off this DVD is our cat, she is nuts and so I have plenty of great footage but I have also added in personal mementos such as the above mentioned video at the cricket and photos from our 1 year anniversary weekend away in London and what I hope will be the icing on the cake is personal messages from friends and family. I have asked people from literally all around the world including America and Brazil to make personal messages to my partner so that I can put them in my DVD. Anyway this is the story of my favourite Christmas presents and of what I hope to be my favourite gift to have given.
Jungle Speed: I think the first thing that most people say when they are first approached with jungle speed is "eh?" This was exactly what my response was when I first came across this game about a year and a half ago now. Initially what I was presented with was a red draw string bag out of which a totem pole about 4 inches tall, it is made of wood and you are told that you are going to be grabbing for it. Then out of the bag comes a pack of cards, but this is not ordinary pack of cards, oh no, this is jungle speed cards. Jungle speed cards are square and all have different patterns that are very slightly different, your job is to match these up. At this point you are still just scratching your head so everyone just says lets have a practise game as that's the easiest way to explain. Playing the game: Everyone who is playing sits in a circle, I have played with as little as 2 and as many as I think 8 players so it is quite versatile in that sense. All the cards are then evenly distributed and your aim is to get rid of all your cards. So the person who is designated to start turns over their top card, you then work your way round the circle with each person putting a card down in front of them, I should add at this point that the totem pole is in the middle of the circle. What you have to keep an eye out for is someone with a card that EXACTLY matches your card, when you see this you pounce for the totem. The person who grabs the totem gives the person who had the matching card all of their face up cards (so all the cards they have laid down in front of them). The aim is to do this until someone has lost all of their cards and they are declared the winner, you can then work your way down until there are only two people left but the people going out first tend to get bored but equally the same person always wins (at least with us) so maybe you could just play for podium spots. The game is not as simple as that though as there are other special cards that can be thrown into the mix and which make the game a whole lots more complicated but also a whole lot more fun. A few examples of these are: The colour card - when this is revealed you stop trying to match exact patterns and instead are trying to match colours only, this only stays in play until a match has been made or it is covered by the next card of the person who played it. The all play card - With this you count to three and then all draw a card at the same time, this is great fun but also tends to have 4 or 5 people grabbing the totem at once and leads to a "I grabbed it first".... "No, I grabbed it first" situation. There are several others but I think you probably get the idea. Is it fun? Well I guess the answer is yes, the only reason for my lack of enthusiasm is because I suck at them game and I hate losing. It is great fun and we like to bring it out with family, one thing that has yet to happen though it for my partner to be beaten. In every other situation I have faster reaction speed and I even play badminton at a club level and have been told I am freakishly fast but when this comes out I don't stand a chance and I lose every time. It is still a great laugh and I am sure that we would play it more frequently if the result was predetermined by my partners greatness at this.
Argos Value Microwave Recently our old microwave stopped working, no pop or bang it just stopped cooking anything that you put in there. For us this is a huge deal, we cooked everything in bulk and then reheat it, doing that using saucepans is just not practical and is far too time consuming, We ideally would want a nice microwave but we are getting married in February and have one on the wedding list so all that we really wanted was something to last until our wedding when hopefully someone will get us the super exciting microwave present. We shopped around looking for value microwaves and came across this one from Argos, at only £30 it did work out at over £5 a month to get this and just replace it come the wedding but with how much use it gets it is well worth the cost to us. Setting Up: Getting this out of the box is easy and to get it working you just need to plug it in, as there is no digital display and no clock you don't have to faff around with that which is a nice change, You will need to put the turntable in and I have to say that this is where it shows that it is a budget product, the turntable itself is fine but the slightest little knock and you have to spend a minute putting it back in place, when you use it as much as we do this is a real pain as it frequently gets knocked and I will frequently get annoyed trying to put it back into place. Using the Microwave to Microwave: Ok with this thing have no shiny features or anything it really is simple to use. Step one is that you open the door and put your food in. Step 2 is to make sure that the power is set to the correct level, for us this is normally full whack, in fact I don't think that we have used any other power setting. Step 3 is to set the time, I have used this for a maximum of 15minutes but the dial does goes further. Once you have followed the above steps it should start whirring away, if you want to stop it early then open the door to stop it or turn the dial round to zero, this is one thing that I am struggling to get use to as all other microwaves that I have used you have had to press start, I end up taking things out and then shutting the door and it turns on with nothing in there (which you really shouldn't do). Really that is all there is to this microwave, the only other thing that I would like to say is that in my opinion it is a bit small, there is not much room in there if you are used to cooking big things then avoid this, you can just about and I mean just fit a normal sized dinner plate in this microwave but you are restricted with height as well as it is not that tall but we have not yet failed to fit anything into the microwave so I guess I can't complain too much. My only complaint comes actually at the timer, as you are unable to set an exact time I have had problems with porridge in the mornings, if you set it for too long it tend to explode and go everywhere, I used to be able to set it for 2 minutes and 15 seconds and it was perfect but with this I have no clue so things are much harder. Overall this is a basic Microwave that will do the job of heating your food, sure it will not do it quick and sure it isn't as feature packed as I would like but at the end of the day my partners porridge is hot in the morning and our dinner is hot in the evening, what more could we want?
Miele Cat and Dog Vacuum Cleaner: I am going to start by providing a tiny bit of background as I feel it helps. The old hoover we had was a fairly basic one from Argos that cleaned up bits and bobs but it missed a lot of hair and this did gradually build up and start to annoy my partner in particular. Anyway things start to change, first of all we are planning our wedding and she has been instructed by the hair dresser to grow her hair long and this in turn has meant much more hair on the floor and secondly we now have a cat, who although we love her despite her being completely crazy does have a lot of fur going over the place. For the above 2 reasons we felt the need to get a new vacuum cleaner to make the process much easier and to save a lot of time, to get the carpet to her standards takes a long time and to be fair I normally do a rubbish job of it. She did a lot of shopping around and we soon realised we were going to have to fork out a couple of hundred quid to get one that really does the job. This one was chosen because it had the specification that my partner wanted and well to be honest I didn't really know any better either way so her choice was my choice. Now onto the cleaner. Appearance: The cleaner itself is one of the ones with a long nozzle and a head on the end of it, those who have seen a Henry cleaner will be about to picture this one in their head quite easily. Anyone interested in matching the colour of their hoover with their room will be interested to hear that this product is mainly red with shades of black and silver. You have on the base unit a few buttons so that you can reel in the power cable and turn the thing on and off. Functionality: This vacuum is really easy to use, I have not used one with a long extension before but it does make things really simple. With the long pole it is much easier to get round corners and get under the table and all the places that I normally miss. Having the bulky unit behind you does get annoying when you catch it on doors or whatever but overall I am pleased with this style. This actual vacuum itself is very easy to use, you of course have wheels on the base unit and these slides nicely over both hard floors and carpet. The base unit also contains an on/off button and a reel in the power cable button that can be pressed with your foot while standing, for those of us who are lazy or are too old to bend over too much these are really useful. Actually cleaning with this is quite hard work and easy at the same time. It is hard because the suction on this thing is so strong that you do really have to push to get the thing to move, the pole is adjustable so that you can set it to the right height for you and whilst this helps it is still a real slug to get it around. It is however also quite easy because it has a turbo brush built into the head which means that one trip over the area is normally enough. One thing that will put many people off of a vacuum cleaner like this is that it is a good old bagged vacuum cleaner, meaning that for those who don't know you have to fill a bag with the dust and things and then remember to empty. We have had this now for quite a while and have used it at least once a week and have only had to empty it twice, we have never had any problems with it exploding or getting overfull. I am not normally someone who is great a hovering but since we have changed to this I am now a master, one whip round the flat and as long as I remember to do every room and every inch of every room I get a gold star and a big smile as my vacuuming is up to the standard required to keep everyone happy and with minimal effort on my part. Other things: One thing to watch out for with this is the noise, you would think as they have advertised it for cat and dog owners they would try to dull down the noise a bit, sure that is not going to be easy when its primary function is to pick up all of that fur but even so it is a real beast and the cat always scarpers when this comes out of the closet. I cannot comment on the longevity of this device as we have only had it around 8 months, in that time we have had nothing go wrong and it was just a case of clicking things together as per the instructions in order to set it up. The cable that comes with this is quite long and I can easily plug it into one end of the hallway and do half the flat and then into the plug at the other end of the hallway and do the rest of the flat, this makes it much easier than having to change the plug for every room. Overall: In my life I have had the pleasure to use a variety of cleaners that include a Henry, a Dyson and a budget one but this one beats the lot, it gives a great cleaner and makes mere mortals like me look like a vacuum cleaning god.
Old Spice Aftershave Aftershaves are not a big deal to me, some mornings I splash some on and some morning I don't and I was feeling like I should remember on a more frequent basis but all I really had on the shelf was some expensive Hugo Boss stuff that I really don't want to use every day. I was surfing Amazon for Old Spice stuff as I was also in the market for shower gel and deodorant and you can buy Old Spice varieties of all of these. I ordered this and awaited its arrival. The packaging: I opened up the box and was met with a little white bottle with some writing on it. I have got to admit that it is not the most stylish of packing. Well this is just going to sit on my shelf so not everything needs to look as nice as the big brand name ones and this bottle still holds the liquid and the smell in. Does it smell nice? Old Spice is in my humble opinion a smell that is a bit like the taste of Marmite, you are either going to love it or hate it. Growing up I remember smelling this and not being that impressed and I think this is because it is an adult smell, now in my mid twenties and I have to say that like many things the smell of this has grown on me and I have come to like it. I would not like to use this for a special occasion and I don't think it smells as nice as my top aftershave - Hugo Boss Soul. Does the smell last? One thing that I like about aftershaves compared to deodorants is that they tend to last a bit longer. By midday I normally find that the smell of a deodorant has worn off but with a decent aftershave it lasts. I would say that of the ones I have tried it doesn't last as long, I can still smell it by the end of a working day but it is starting to fade. Does the bottle last? This bottle comes with my less preferred method of dispensing and that is to say that it is a pour it onto your hand job, I tend to find that I end up with too much smell on my hand and not enough on my face and body and this in turn means that I use much more than I want to. I am still on my first bottle of this so I can't accurate predict the longevity of an entire bottle over than to say that it is lasting. Is it Pricy? One of the big problems that I have with aftershave is that they tend to cost too much and I mean £40 a bottle or something crazy like that, even if I was rich I would not want to be buying a bottle of aftershave a month. But this aftershave is actually quite affordable, on Amazon I got this bottle for £10 and that is a decent sized bottle. Overall this is a nice aftershave that smells pretty good and comes at a really good cost for an aftershave.
Hugo Boss - Soul I am not a big fan of aftershaves in general, I am not someone who will go out and spend loads of time smelling them and looking for them and will generally just go with the flow. Anyway one year for Christmas my parents decided to get me some of this and I can't say I blame them as I do tend to smell and not just by the end of the day. The packaging: Anyway I opened this up and have to say that it is pretty heavy duty compared to other ones I have had. By Heavy Duty I mean weighty, this looks like a massive bottle and boy is it heavy, the amount of glass that Hugo Boss must put into this is quite impressive. The packaging does look pretty cool and it stands out on my self. Does it smell nice? Onto the most important thing - the smell. Again I have to admit I am not someone who has an amazing sense of smell but aftershaves are generally strong and this is not an exception, it is a strong smell, a masculine smell and I am not sure I can describe it much more than that. Does the smell last? Well I have to say that come the end of a working day, as previously stated, I smell but if I have put some of this stuff on all I can really smell is this coming through but not in a bad way. It is just a sort of lingering smell and this is how it is from the start it is never over powering and I would recommend not using too much as it is awful (not this product but aftershaves in general) when people use far too much of it. Does the bottle last? I have had various different sizes of bottles of this stuff and I have to say that yes it does last, it does come in a spray bottle and not one of the pour it out style bottles and I think this helps. Whilst this style does mean that you can't control exactly how much comes out it does get spread out much more and I only need 2 sprays and I am good doe the day. Is it Pricy? Well of course it is an aftershave and it is from a brand name so it is bound to be expensive and it doesn't fail, for a decent sized bottle it is £30 from Amazon, I think it is well worth the money but have been fortunate enough to have never had to buy it as I am always getting given it as a gift. Does it work? Well I can say that I have only ever been on one date, and on that one date I used this After Shave and now I am engaged to the person who I went on that date with. Sure that is much more down to my charming personality but she does really like the smell of this and out of my vast collection of 3 aftershaves this is her favourite and best of all it is also my favourite.
A Prittstick, a glue that is a stick. Can't say I know who thought of this idea but whoever they are they are very clever and probably very rich. For those who don't know a Prittstick is a glue, really only for use with paper, that comes in a solid form rather than a liquid form, this means less mess and less glue all over the place right? Well in practical terms the glue does work, you twist the stick and the glue comes out of the top, you then rub this on the paper that you want to stick down, normally I find you need to use quite a bit, you then apply pressure and it sticks to the paper. The individual sticks, no matter what the size, seem to last for a lot of sticks and just seem to keep on going and going, so as long as you keep a spare one you should have plenty of glue to keep you going. I do however have a few issues with Prittsticks: 1) This is a big problem in my opinion, the glue doesn't stick that well. I have had to stick lots of things down over the years with this stuff and would not use it on anything other than paper and even then I have had problems of things just dropping off after a while. Do you think that glue should only work for a little bit? I don't but this is fairly cheap glue that isn't advertised as long lasting. 2) You still end up in a mess. Doesn't really matter what I am going with this but I still seem to end up getting in a mess, I get glue all over my hands and all over the desk, so I don't think I would really call it all that clean. 3) If you forget to put the cap then watch it dry out super quick, I suppose this does happen with normal glue if you leave the lid off but I tend to find the case is much worse with this stuff. Overall this is still the glue that I turn to when I need to do some simple sticking and what not, however I would recommend picking a store value version as they normally stick just as well as the brand name ones but for half the price, just wish that that sticking power was considerably better, then again with the mess I get myself in maybe it is better that it doesn't.
These electronic shavers are not cheap and I picked mine up one year for Christmas from my parents and whilst this was not my first electric shaver it was my first with the most built in cream release. First impressions I remember that I was expecting big things from it and on opening the box I was not disappointed. As you would expect with Nivea products this is of high quality and everything looks great. I guess with a shaver you shouldn't have to talk about how easy it is to assemble but I think here it applies, there are many different bits and bobs but they all clip together easily and the instructions are clear and concise. The shaver did come with some charge but I didn't want to shave straight away so stuck it on to charge. One word of warning that when charging this is bulky, when living with my family I had to charge this in the bedroom as it took up too much space in the bathroom. When charging it has three green lights on the front that light up, three lights means fully charged, on the stand you also have an indicator displaying whether the lotion bottle is empty or not (red means empty) and this is added to the shaver at the same time as charging and normally only takes a few seconds to top up and can be done manually so you don't have to take the whole thing on holiday. Shaving Of course the most important thing is how it shaved. At the time I had never used a non-electric shaver so the only comparison I could make was to other electric shavers. When fully charged it whirs away quite nicely and the lotion comes out of 2 of the three shaving heads, as I am sure you can guess you just apply some pressure and put it against your face and the hair starts to come off. It is really easy to shave and I find it glides much nicer over the skin than any other electric shaver that I have used and is a really comfortable shave. I normally need about 4 squirts of the lotion per shave and shaving will typically take me about 3-4minutes but one thing I do find is that I tend to miss some spots. Other things: So the shaver has an initial high price and this is not all that you will be charged for. First you will have to by top ups for the lotion. These come in little bottles and last around a month depending on your usage and hair thickness (for me daily and quite thick) and work out at about £5 each. You will then find that you will probably need to get a new shaving head about once a year, which isn't too bad when you compare to a manual shaver but they do cost about £25. Cleaning is quite simple as you can just run the whole thing under the tap to remove all of the hair and you can also pop the shaving head off and give this a proper going over. The head is interchangeable with a trimmer, if I am honest I don't use this feature enough to review it other than to say that they are easy to change and the trimmer seems to work. Battery life is quite good, I normally charge it once a week but this is because the lotion has run out and the battery has dropped to 2 bars. Although the battery has only dropped to two bar I still feel that it is worth charging as the power you get from the device is far more when fully charged than when partially charged. Is it really a good shave? So in recent months I have tried out a few manual shavers and can say the following: -The shave with this is not as close as a manual shaver, not even close. -The shave with this though it much smoother and I have never ever cut myself. -On a day to day basis I still pick up this as it is so much quicker and easily than a full shave. - I have less irritation with the electric vs manual shaver Overall this probably does not give a shave that is close enough for most people, but for anyone who likes electric shavers this is a great choice, it is really simple and easy to use and does the job well enough on a day to day basis to keep me happy.
Savlon Right now then... who growing up fell over and scraped their knees? I know I did and not just a few times but all the time and my Mum would come up to my teary eyes and go "don't worry we'll put some special cream on it and it'll all be better". I think that this special cream should be kept in all good, well actually all first aid boxes. I was actually prompted to write this review after falling over and scraping my knee. So what is Savlon? Salvon is an antiseptic cream, this is to say that it is a cream that helps to prevent infections and aids the recovery of the skin after scrapes and whacks. So clearly having the antibacterial properties that it does it is great to use on cuts as a first line of defence, sure it stings a little when you first put in on but now I am a grown up I realise that actually it doesn't sting all that much. I actually tend to go to this first above anything else, if I have a little spot or someone has a rash or I have been attacked by the playful cat I always turned to Savlon first. When you first squeeze Salvon out of the tube you get a very distinctive smell, it is not an unpleasant smell but it certainly doesn't smell of roses, I for one think the smell is ok and maybe because it is what I grew up with actually think that this is exactly what something that I am going to rub onto an open wound should smell like. The produce itself is a white cream, white is a very good colour for this product as you instantly think it must be clean it's white, it is all about the psychology. I am very happy with Salvon and the function that it serves, you can buy it in handy travel sized tubes, which although they don't go far are perfect for stuffing into a car first aid kit or a holiday one for that matter, however you can also buy what I call industrial sized ones that around about 100g and although this will set you back more than a couple of pounds (around £4 I think) it will last ages even if you use it for every little thing like I do.
Val McDermid - The Mermaids Singing: I had heard of Val McDermid a long time ago and I am sure I can remember reading one of her books a while back, A Distant Echo was, I think the name of the book. I was sure I could remember it being a really enjoyable read but at the time I was engrossed with some of my other favourite authors like Michael Connelly and Jeffery Deaver. However a few years passed and my backlog of books disappeared and I felt it was time to revisit Val McDermid and after doing some research I discovered that this was the first book in a series. This book, entitled, "The Mermaids Singing" has nothing to do with mermaids and it definitely aimed at an adult audience and I would only recommend it to those that enjoy crime thriller books and I have recommended this book to several people who have all enjoyed it. "The Mermaids Singing" is set in the North of the country (England) in a town called Bradfield and is centred around the character of Tony Hill, a clinical psychologist who is known for his expertise on studying serial killers, though captured serial killers are his really area of prowess. The back of this book states (also the first lines) "You always remember the first time. Isn't that what they say about sex? How much more true it is of murder" not only do I think this helps draw the reader in but I also think that this is the case for Tony as he tackles his first serial killer outside of the confines of a prison. I think this is a good way to start the series as although there is a lot of background for you to learn you get to tackle things with him from the start. The case really hits home for Tony who has sexual problems of his own, this adds another element to the book and the depth of the character but you should really read the book for details. Tony of course has a partner in crime, for lack of a better saying; this is Carol Jordan, a police detective that is chucked into the case with Tony, she and Tony being to get along, maybe a bit too well. Carols brother, a computer whiz, also has a part to play in this thrilling story. You do hear things both from the point of view of the killer and Tony and I think this helps you feel part of the story and it is better than just following one character throughout. The stage is set when bodies are discovered, but this is no usual case, the bodies are of men that have all been severely tortured and mutilated, if you do not like gruesome books then stay away from this one as McDermid does not hold back and many a time I winced or even looked away from the book, yet, at the same time I was enthralled. (If you do turn out to like this book then also give Mo Hayder a try). Things in this book really heat up when it is discovered that one of the victims is a police colleague and the stage is set to profile not only the killer but also the victims, are they straight? Gay? Selected? Random? ... Hill of course is in charge of profiling the case for the police to help catch the killer, little did he know that a war will develop between him and the madman leading to a typical battle of good vs evil. Unlike a lot of other books I have read I find that the Mermaids Singing and Val McDermid books in general have a great balance or detail and action. Let me further explain what I mean here, some authors like say Stephen Booth do one of the things I had and that is put in too much detail, I find that this means it can take me ages to get into the book and as much as I enjoy them this annoys me and others will be like James Patterson where I feel that details are left out in favour of a quick thrill that can be read really quickly. McDermid though explains everything perfectly, you get the details you need to feel that you can solve the case first and to get the atmosphere and tension but it is not over the top so you don't get bored. This book is tense, well written, has twists and character depth to match with its fast pace it is extremely enjoyable and I found that it captured my attention to the point that I didn't want to put it down. At 443 pages in a good sized font and unlike many other books decent sized chapters (only 18 in total) it is a really nice size and will take a while to read. It is well worth the full price of £5.99 on Amazon. I actually have an older copy of the book which is now available through Amazon marketplace new for under 50p - a great bargain.
Blogger: Blogger is a website that allows you to freely and easily set up your own blog, it does everything except for writing your posts for you. Getting Started: To get started with Blogger you just need to make an account, this may sound like a hardship, entering lots of details and then finding some hidden charges right? Well actually no, I just had to sign in with my Google Mail account and I was done, no charges or additional details required. I then set about picking a template, they have a decent selection and allow you to change the layout of the post and everything like that and of course you can customise them to meet your needs. Posting a Blog: Well posting a blog is really easy as well, you just start writing, just write whatever you want to write about, for me personally I needed a place to vent my frustration at having a really annoying condition known as Ledderhose disease which has been causing me problems, anyway if you wanted to know about that you can visit my blog. The format of the Blog editor is very much like a text editor, you can change the font and the colour of the text and you can add in a URL, however something which is also useful is that you can also post pictures and videos. I think that this is a really important function, a lot of things are much easier to explain with a picture or a video, for me this was how I have a limited range of movement in the toes of my left foot, explaining this with text was doable but why not just show people with a video, well with Blogger I could and I did. Other bits and pieces: One thing I really like about blogger is that there are several other things that you can do with your blog, on thing that I am sure is close to the hearts of many people here is that you can make money, just put get Google Adsense and then you can have adverts shown on your blog, sure they may not be to everyones tastes and you may want to keep you blog more pure than that but if you want some pocket money then this might be able to add to it. Blogger is also good at giving you statistics, it will give you the number of views that you have had today and in total, it will also tell you where these views came from and I don't just mean what link, I mean which country, my blog seems to be popular mainly in the UK but also appears to be liked in Russia and the USA. I personally wanted to know more than this and it is really easy to link your account up to Google Analytics which will give you even more details, I can now find out what area within the UK the people are viewing the blog from and for how long. Overall: I can't say that I have used many blogs site before, but I can say that I don't think I will need to use another one, Blogger does a good job at making it easy to post, easy to view and easy to keep track of everything, so far I have really enjoyed using it and hope that my Blog might even prove to be helpful to someone with the same condition at some point in the future. Blogger even has a mobile app allowing me to do posts and picture on the go. If anyone wants to see my blog just PM me, however it will only be of interest to those who want to know about Ledderhose Disease / Plantar Fibromas.
Wii Sports: I first came across this game when it came free with my parents Wii, at a first glance I was not that impressed by the look of the graphics and thought nothing of it and that I would stick to being a PlayStation man and although that has stayed true this game did keep my entertained for a while and is still a party favourite, maybe more so than the PlayStation Move Sports Champion game. I am sure that everyone knows what this game is about, you play a variety of sports and it is mainly aimed at playing multi-player rather than single player and although you can play this single player I can't recommend it as I got bored of it really quickly. I will now tell you about each of the sports that you can compete in, these are (in the order I am going to review them) Bowling, Tennis, Golf, Baseball and Boxing. Bowling: Bowling is my favourite of all of the games on this disc, it has the simple premise of you bowl to set the top score. I personally find the bowling experience quite easy if somewhat completely different to normal bowling and that's not just a bad thing, no lugging a heavy ball around although with my technique I still jar my arm when realising the ball. This game excels in the multi-player mode, normally I hate games where you have to take it in turns but here it works, you bowl your friend bowls then you bowl, this is like real life and great fun and no pins getting stuck or unregistered on the score sheet. One thing that can seem a bit sill is that the pins don't act with the quite right physics and you can get some falling over from the slightest of touches from another pin, great for the score if it's you though. How easy is bowling to pick up I hear you ask? Well I played with someone who had never played before on Saturday and they managed to set a score of 150, much higher than they have achieved in real life, I was also playing for the first time in a year and it is fair to say it is about getting your groove back, in the first game I got something along the lines of 150 (the person above got around 120) but in the second game I managed to get a score of over 200 (only 15 off of my best) and at one point was on a run of 4 strikes in a row with a total of 6 strikes and I think 3 spares it is fair to say this is a game you can drop and come back to. In the single player bit you have to try and increase your ranking basically by setting higher scores, your ranking however is also adjusted by how well you perform in multi-player modes and whilst this is a good thing it also means that if you have some pride in your skill level then you are less likely to try to underperform to keep your friends and family happy. Do listen to the warnings and make sure everything is clear, not just from the sides but also from above as I have managed to smash a glass lamp shade that it then took my parents a year to find a replacement for (oops) Tennis: If you want a realistic tennis simulated then look further, this is a tennis game that at its best is ok and can result in a bit of a work out if you really give it some oomph. You can play this both singles and doubles, which means that again this can be a great multi-player game, you basically end up running around the room swishing your arm, that is until you realise that a flick of the wrist gives the same result. Ultimately this is not like real tennis but is still a good laugh for adults and kids which is what this game is about. Golf The golf game is an interesting one, clearly the game is perfect for this kind of format, what with the swing being the key part of golf (so I am told, I have never played once for real in my life). This game is quite easy to pick up, at least the basics are... You swing, you hit the ball, you try to get it in the hole. There is one big flaw with the game though and that is that the Wii controllers are just not sensitive enough for you to be able to hit the ball as you want to, it is far too easy to over hit and have the ball fly off to the side and equally when trying to put getting the Wii to register that you are trying to hit it super duper lightly can result in frustration and the shot gets over hit. Another thing here is that there are not many holes, just 9, now I have played Sports Champion of the PS3 move and not only is their version of golf (Frisbee golf) more sensitive but you also have 18 holes that you can play in either day or night and you can unlock reverse as well, this gives a huge selection compared to this and honestly I think they should be compared as they are both multi-sports games aimed primarily at the multi-player / party market. Baseball I hate Baseball on here, mainly because I am competitive and I cannot play it very well, then again nobody I know can play it very well, even the genius gamer that is my nephew struggles with this one. Ok the idea of this is that you can be the batter or pitcher, pitching is simple, you just throw the thing and it goes in basically the right direction and all is good. Batting however very much has an art to it, I have managed to hit about 15 home runs or so in my time and at least 12 of them came in one game where I was just in the groove and it worked, not only did they come in one game but they came in one innings. Since then though no luck and I have all but given up on playing this either by myself or with others. Annoying and boring (also not being American I probably don't fully appreciate it). Boxing This game is just a case of thrashing your arms about as fast as you can, do I like it, no, if I wanted a work out I would just do some exercise, I have never found that there was much skill in this game and never really enjoyed playing it either single or multi-player. Training: Everyone of the above game has a training bit so that you can learn how to do it, this is useful if you are all new to the game but I would recommend just to get someone to teach you if they already no how. Overall Overall this is probably one of the best family fun games on the Wii, mainly because of the fun factor of the bowling game that I have yet to find matches on the PS3 move and still enjoy playing this the most on the Wii. I never play single player and I rarely play any of the games other than the bowling, we got this game for free with our Wii so can't complain, if you can find it for £10 or less then I would consider buying it.
Mario Karts: I don't usually play games like Mario Karts as I tend to find them too childish and not challenging enough but on the odd occasion it can be great fun, especially when you have little ones running around and people who just can't play games (like my Mum). Gameplay: Here is where, at least at the time, the Wii was novel, you played this game but turning the wheel (Wiimote), this of course results in a different and much more interactive experience than playing a similar kind of game on the PS3 or 360. Personally I do like being able to steer like this, although I feel that the sensitivity of the Wiimotes means that you aren't in as much control as you would like and luckily, at least for kids, driving ability is real life is not reflective on the Maria Kart Tracks. Being a Wii game the graphics aren't supposed to be fantastic but they are actually not too bad. During the course of a race you will have the chance to pick up weapons, much like in Wipeout and Blur on the PS3, however you will find that in this game the weapons are very much geared towards keeping everyone close together, so that if you are at or near the back you will get a bullet pick up that allows you to fly fast through the air whilst if you are at the front you might get a couple of bananas. The weapon system is good and it is easy to fire forwards or backwards and it is useful for rubbish people however if like me you are super duper competitive you might not like the fact that someone can beat you by picking up the right thing which can mean skill isn't always the leading factor for a race win. However on my most recent playing session I won 7 out of 8 races with the other race being a fraction of a second behind the winner after a late attack on me, I guess this shows that for a regular gamer it is easy however for the less experienced it can be a challenge as my other ½ failed to finish above 6th and lost a lot of the above races. Tracks: One thing I really like about this game and I think more so than most others is the tracks, not the layout as such but the interactivity that you do not see in most other racing games because they are trying to be serious. I love that you can fall into water or lava, that you can be squashed by things from above or that something from the side of the track can attack you; I guess I think that all of this adds to the fun side of the game which is exactly what they are aiming for. The tracks do also progress so that at the start they are simple and fairly easy but towards the end it can take a few attempts to win. Cars: Ok so there is not much choice, basically there are karts that are easy or hard to control where the top speed with differ and there are bikes where the top speed tends to be faster but I struggle to control them, my advice would just be go with the standard kart and you should be able to win. Single Player- In this mode you have to play through the different tracks and you are also forced to use the bike, I like the way that this works and it is nice to have to unlock more tracks and characters which you can then use in multi-player mode. I wouldn't say this has massive longevity and I was bored of it relatively quickly and this is probably because the incentive of unlocking more tracks has disappeared after a short time. Multi-payer- This is where I feel this game excels, I have played this game with many many people and all of them have liked it, even the Mrs was having a good time and a laugh despite not being so good and it is just a fun game, you can just do a race against everyone (12 in total and 1-4 players) or you can do a team race where you are split into teams and the one with the most points at the end wins, this is a nice touch for those people who aren't so good as you can still win overall. Overall: A great game, especially for the kids, I think that what is lacks in graphics and seriousness it makes up for in fun and general pick up and play, sure I am not going to sit there and play it for hours but at Christmas and other get togethers it is a good game to lighten the mood and get everyone together. It is also worth noting that you can get a wheel add-on to shove the remote in, I can't say I think this makes it any easy and would recommend not bothering with it.