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Do you remember having Coco Pops or Nesquik just to finish off the chocolate milk at the end? Or perhaps various chocolate milk drinks that we were given throughout our childhood? Perhaps this is why we associate chocolate with a positive feeling as, let's admit it, many parents use it as a reward! Maybe this is why so many of us are on the verge of a chocolate addiction!? But as we get older and more self-aware, we realise what is good for us and what is not so and sadly chocolate falls into the less favourable category. *Insert sad face here!* Options - product of Ovaltine UK - is one of many brands who have invented a compromise for the more health-conscious of us: Options Belgian Chocolate in a 220g tub, suitable for all the family. I can see how this would offer a guilt-free option for parents to give to their children as a night-time drink. And I can certainly understand how people like me view it as an innocent treat. In fact, it has prevented me from quickly nipping to the local shop in the evening when I've been craving something sweet. It is, as the name would suggest, an alternative option. The Taste Test Contrary to popular opinion, I find Options Belgian chocolate rather watery. It's like an average vending machine hot chocolate, only with fewer calories. I guess I must expect this to a certain extent because the product is instant - but I kind of feel it would be worth putting in the extra time and attention in order to create a thicker, creamier treat, for instance, Cadbury's drinking chocolate. Through a little experimentation I have found that using milk instead of water in this drink to be pretty advantageous. Skimmed milk works just as well, whilst saving on the calories and the drink is nice both hot and cold. When I had a sore throat I also tried the drinking chocolate with a little honey, which worked surprisingly well. A tip that stood out in another review was having it with Baileys! Now, I can't exactly say that promotes healthy eating/drinking - but it does taste bloody good! When I was at Slimming World I also used to mix the hot chocolate powder with natural yoghurt in order to create a healthy but quite sweet dessert. It's not amazing, but worth a try of you are serious about dieting. Packaging In relation to the design, the first thing that strikes me is the skinny, twenty-something woman on both the front and back of the tub. If I'd had any doubt, I would now be feeling reassured that this product is aimed at women who want to lose weight! I guess it is (like most advertising) slightly deceiving because unless you regularly have high calorie chocolate drinks you are incredibly unlikely to lose weight because of this hot chocolate! The tub itself is both light blue and brown, the latter being a fair representation of the colour you can expect your drink to be! I'm not convinced that these two colours actually go well at all together, but I guess what really sells it is the "only 40 calories a cup" label. How to Make It is a very easy drink to make. I did however find that it took longer than I would have liked to dissolve the powder and often there were still grains of powder left at the bottom of the cup, even after much stirring. 1. Boil water. It is advised to let it cool down a bit before pouring it into the cup. 2. Place three teaspoons of the instant chocolate powder in your mug. 3. Add the water and stir, stir, stir! Vital Information You can buy this particular product from most supermarkets, but mine specifically was purchased from a small Sainsbury's store in town for £2.49. I find this to be quite expensive, but it is actually on a par with many similar products. I am a vegetarian and have drunk this on and off for the past couple of years. Therefore I was utterly shocked to discover that they are NOT actually suitable for vegetarians! The drink contains whey powder which is not always veggie and according to the website it certainly isn't vegetarian on this occasion. *Insert swear word here!* If you're a meat muncher and are not put off by this then you might also like to know that Options is available in single packets (weighing 11g, the same as 3 teaspoonfuls) in Belgian chocolate, orange, banana, toffee, vanilla, hazelnut, white chocolate, coconut, choca mocha, double choc, Turkish delight and mint. This specific item contains both milk and soya, but is gluten free. Additionally: - All the Options contain at least some real Belgian chocolate - Each cup contains at least half the calories of a standard hot chocolate - The hazelnut variety does not contain nuts, but the white chocolate does (go figure!?) - The company makes some effort to come across as ethical, but there are many flaws and it is not registered as Fairtrade They also have a pretty comprehensive website which can be found here: http://www.optionstreats.co.uk/ Final Thoughts Upon learning more and more about Options, my opinion of it just fell lower and lower. I think it is pretty appalling that it is not vegetarian (although I realise it's not great that I haven't checked before now!). The container is a nice shape and distinctive, so stands out in your cupboard, making it easier to find. The product itself I found a letdown, but when you balance it against the fact that its low calorie, I forgive it a little for its shortcomings. You may also be interested to know that a similar product is available in the Skinny Cow range in both chocolate and mint flavours at only 37 calories (but at a marginally higher price), so if Options isn't for you then I recommend trying that. I believe this one is vegetarian too! I wouldn't particularly recommend Options Belgian Chocolate.
The title is a great line from the film! Can you believe it? Benny and Joon is now 17 years old. That means I was just 2 ½ when it was released! Feel old? Before today I'd never seen this film, although heard much about its great reputation. But lately, I've been gradually coaxing out past Johnny Depp films from the lovely Amazon (the website, not the rainforest - it's not quite that good a film!) and up cropped Benny and Joon. Plot Benny and Joon are brother and sister. Benjamin (a few years Juniper's senior) cares for her as she has an undefined mental illness. Joon's eccentricity is rather exaggerated at the start of the film, with scenes such as the young lady randomly directing traffic whilst wearing a snorkel. I felt this was more of a representation of mental illness than a realistic interpretation.Thankfully though, as the film progresses Joon's crazy behaviour feels much more set in reality, allowing the audience to warm to the character. The story becomes much more intriguing when Mike (a friend of Benny) wins a bet with Joon. She must look after his cousin, Sam. Sam's presence introduces a new dynamic to the film. Sam seems to enrich Benny's life and, more importantly, he establishes a genuine connection with Joon. Meanwhile, Benny is trying and mostly failing to enter into a relationship with Ruthie, due to the great responsibility he feels for Joon. It is really quite rewarding to watch this film unfold and watch how Joon develops, for better or worse. Character As Sam, Johnny Depp has a very sincere and honest quality and portrays his innocence beautifully. His performance is utterly convincing and the relationship between him and Joon is stunning to watch. The pair have a certain childlike naivety that is hard to recreate, but these two pull it off whilst retaining the chemistry Sam and Joon have. Sam is definitely kooky, but not so much insane which I found helped me to trust in the character. Depp subtly shows Sam's fear and insecurities, but there are also moments of great fun and joy. This is often shown through physical comedy with finely crafted routines that made me laugh out loud. Overall, an impressive performance that I really cannot fault. Joon is played by Mary Stuart Masterson, who has a natural beauty, reminiscent of Jennifer Anniston. I did feel she could have got her pearly whites stuck into the role a little more, but I would be lying if I said she was inadequate in anyway. Like Sam, she has such a youthful, naive nature, but Joon is also mentally ill - though it is constantly questionable as to what extent. I felt Masterson definitely improved as the film progressed at the content improved. Her determination and pride was played well against her inner struggle, therefore creating an interesting depth to Joon. Aiden Quinn (who has countless films coming up this year) was perfect for the role of Benny. I definitely understood his inner conflict in making decisions about his Sister's future and was relieved when it all resolved itself at the end. The most noticeable thing about Aiden Quinn has to be his eyes! He uses these powerful tools to portray emotion, convincingly flicking from friendly and calm to sinisterly livid in less than a heartbeat. The last noticeable performance from my perspective came from Ruthie - Benny's love interest - played by Julianne Moore. As a viewer I gave her instant attention from her first scene, where seems different and quietly flirtatious. The character of Ruthie intertwines with all three of the main roles and we start to see different sides of her, although not all are particularly exciting! But sure, she is certainly right for the part and gives everything that is required of her. Benny and Ruthie's relationship seems insignificant in comparison to the thrill of Sam and Joon's, but I guess it's not easy to create chemistry from nothing. Maybe the casting director should have found a couple that really worked together... Overview Something else worthy of a mention was the set of Benny and Joon's house. Someone had clearly spent a long, long time focusing on every tiny detail - from stacks of Joon's paintings to random and weird puppets hanging up. I would have loved to of had a wonder round that house! The DVD obviously lacks today's standard of picture quality, but I thought it rather charming actually. The film itself is pretty short by today's standards and did manage to hold my attention throughout. The soundtrack was pretty good, my favourite being the lively 'I'm gonna be (500 miles) by The Proclaimers, which both opened and closed the film. If you can get past the slightly dull first twenty minutes, where they clumsily go about setting up the circumstances then this is a truly delightful film. The story is interesting and very well acted, but it perhaps lacks unpredictability or a twist to the tale which would convince me it was worth 5 stars! I enjoyed this film so much more than I expected and therefore would absolutely recommend it!
As you may be aware, the chocolate bar, Flake, have a Benefit lipstick promotion on at the moment. I am pleased to say that I managed to get hold of one of these little goodies. There are several lipsticks and two lip glosses to choose from on the website. I chose 'Fresh Squeezed over Life' on the A List and just under three weeks later, my lip gloss lovely arrived in the post. ===The Look=== My Benefit lip gloss is a pretty peach colour. I was hoping the effect would be very natural, but instead it looks quite dressy and shows you've made an effort. This of course is no bad thing and I'm the sort of person that may wear it to the local shop, even so! It looks like tiny particles of glitter have been added to the gloss to create a beautiful shimmer effect, which is sure to get you noticed! I think this lip gloss creates the perfect balance, as it has a sense of maturity, but with a youthful edge to it. I have a pink squeezy lip gloss from The Body Shop and it's interesting to note the differences between them. My Body Shop gloss is far gloopier and creates a sticky effect on the lips, as well as looking sweet and girly. On the other hand, this Benefit lip gloss glides on very easy and has a good consistency which is not too thick. It doesn't seem to attract my hair to stick to my lips in the same way, thankfully! I would say that this gloss has a lovely, feminine feel to it, but is far more glamorous than my old Body Shop gloss. The only complaint I have is that it's very slightly grainy when you rub your lips together. ===Durability=== As with most lip glosses, this needs regularly reapplying. If you drink or maybe even talk too much, then it will soon start to disappear! This is a right pain, as at only 5ml, there is not an awful lot in the tub anyway. ===Packaging=== My Benefit Lipstick came in a suitably sized box, not much bigger than the gloss itself. I was pleased with this because it means I can easily recycle it. The box design is pretty funky! Black and white swirls adorn three out of four sides, with the back displaying the ingredients. On the top is a square showing the colour and name of the exact lip gloss you have chosen. I felt this should have been on the tub also to help differentiate for anyone who has decided to buy (or win, like me!) more than one shade. As you can see in the picture above, the tub is simple but very effective. Although I expect it is made of plastic, it looks a lot like glass, which makes it very attractive. The Benefit logo is etched into the bottom and reflects as you rotate the tub. The design is one of black swirls to match the box, but the rest is left clear to make it obvious which colour is shining through. ===Application=== The lid unscrews easily to reveal the applicator. I thought the design of the wand was stunning - a clear cylinder, very classy. The brush at the end isn't as posh as I'd expected it to be. There is no definite shape like some more expensive brands have, some with flat, heart-shaped applicators. Therefore, it required a couple of dips into the gloss before spreading it on my lips to get the look I required. I also recommend putting your thumb between your lips afterwards. This gets rid of the lip gloss that may end up on your teeth - not a good look! ===Colours available=== Almost Famous - a chocolate pink Fresh Squeezed - the one I have reviewed, a peach colour Friends in High Places - a reddish pink I'm With the Band - a Barbie pink Kiss You - a rich, deep pink Life on the A List - a light salmon pink Who Are You Wearing? - a bright, medium pink Zone Out - more natural, beige pink ===Overall Opinion=== I don't think I would spend the retail price of £14 on this lip gloss, unless of course I won the lottery! But I definitely suggest becoming a fan of Flakes, as I think this is a brilliant deal! I think their range of colours is pretty good and eight shades is quite impressive. However, I think they are lacking in dark browns and reds. Some similar products smell a bit sickly, but the scent of this lip wear is rather subtle. It's maybe a little fruity - grapes perhaps - but once on, I think you'll hardly notice it. I would say that after use, my lips felt a little softer than before. I think that 'Fresh Squeezed' is a lip gloss that will suit all skin tones and it does match nicely with my olive skin. Overall, this is a lovely lip gloss that I think most women will be pleased with and it only has a few negative aspects.
*Film only review* Girl with a Pearl Earring is a movie I've wanted to see for years. Seven years, in fact. Starring Colin Firth and Scarlett Johansson and nominated for countless awards, I was sure it was going to be a success in my books. Unfortunately, this was one of those films that is so worthy and high-brow that it's impossible to properly enjoy! The plot is very simple. A young servant named Griet (Scarlett Johansson) starts working in the house of the painter Johannes Vermeer (Colin Firth). He soon spots her and she becomes his inspiration for a new painting. His Wife, Catharina (Essie Davis), has insecurities which lead to a jealousy of Griet, thus potentially interfering with Johannes's new work of art. There are also complications bought about by Johannes's patron, Pieter Van Ruijven (Tom Wilkinson) who has so much power and lust that he believes he can have anything he wants. I found the character of Griet rather underwhelming. Scarlett Johansson has little dialogue for much of the film and her presence wasn't strong enough for me. She created a few moments of brilliance and yes, her role was convincing. However, I'd expected Johansson to give a show-stopping performance, after gaining such critical acclaim. Griet, as the main protagonist, takes the most prominent journey, as her character becomes less quiet, less eager to please and undergoes a sexual awakening. I must admit, it was nice to see her get some colour in her cheeks, as she discovers the joys of painting and an old-fashioned camera. Her character has two main relationships of differing intensities, with both Johannes and the Butcher's son, Pieter, played by Cillian Murphy. The role of Peiter was not particularly original, (you know, the typical boy-meets-girl, girl isn't sure, but eventually gets with boy) but I felt Murphy did the best with what he was given. His character was clear and his playful nature charming. Also, I think his youthful, almost elvish looks and bright blue eyes bought something additional to his scenes, whilst contrasting effectively with Johannes Vermeer. Colin Firth filmed Girl with a Pearl Earring in the same year as Love Actually. He certainly looked the part of the creative painter, which his striking long hair helped with. It reminded me of Johnny Depp too, which is never a bad thing! The relationship between Johannes and Griet is so gradual that I seldom felt excited or captured by it. There are moments of tension that are somewhat interesting, but they never go anywhere, which is particularly frustrating viewing. The age gap between the characters is never mentioned, but as Griet looks so very young, I think it would be fair to question Johannes's motivations. There are hints to him being turned off by his wife because of her more mature age, whereas it is made clear that Griet is, shall we say, "pure." Nevertheless, this romantic liaison is never really presented as anything even slightly malicious, which I find to be questionable. Essie Davis as Catharina fulfils her role adequately. Although initially cold and heartless, we begin to understand and feel some sympathy towards the character as the story progresses. Tom Wilkinson was perhaps underused as the only sort of villain in the tale. One scene he is in is rather shocking, but other than that I didn't feel the character was essential to the plot. ====Overall opinion==== I was quite surprised how much the age of the DVD showed! Considering its only seven years old, the picture quality was significantly worse then films released more recently. Looking at this from a positive perspective, at least it shows how far we've come on. I wasn't sure about all the costumes. For a period piece, I just felt like some of them jarred slightly, seeming too odd or extravagant. Although Girl with a Pearl Earring is set in 1665, the language was easy to understand. I reckon all members of the family would have a fair understanding of what was going on, but I don't think many would be fully entertained by it. Especially those with a shorter attention span! The film takes quite a little while to get going and when it does its still at a snail pace. Pace is certainly the main element of this movie which could have definitely been improved! The music was regularly dismal and sometime was too noticeable. Therefore rather than creating a subtle effect, it tended to dominate. The lighting was better than average and often did very well to enhance the overall mood of a scene. For instance, the bright warmth of the feast suggested wealth and security. This then contrasted excellently with the following scene set in the grey cobbled streets in the pouring rain -something that the servants had to brave no matter what. Most scenes, however, were rather dull and many were very similar to one another. I do remember one scene with a difference though. It was beautifully shot, soaring over a lake and darting in between trees, before gracing itself upon Pieter and Griet. Even the best performance displayed pretty standard acting ability. I am someone who quite likes dramas, but this one definitely needed a bit of comedy to spice things up. As you can probably tell, this was a film that I was less than impressed with. Girl with a Pearl Earring lacks lots of thing, but largely I think the story was unoriginal and predictable. I wanted to like this film, but it was near impossible. Not recommended.
Almost Alice is an assortment of music by various artists, inspired by Tim Burton's re-imagining of Alice in Wonderland. Some releases of the album have bonus tracks, but this review is purely about the standard album. Sixteen new tracks by a selection of different musicians - many of whom I have never heard of and the majority of which are American. Alice by Avril Lavigne - 4 out of 5 This is the main song on the Almost Alice album and the perfect track to open the album with. I do recall hearing it from Alice in Wonderland 3D, which I saw at the cinema a few weeks ago. It starts pretty dramatically which complements the song as a whole, as Avril's vocals are powerful and full of teenage angst (even though she's 25 years old). In my opinion, Avril Lavigne is the perfect artist to be associated with the film, as she has that rocky, quirky edge to her, similar to Tim Burton's creation of Alice herself. The Poison by The All-American Rejects - 4 out of 5 The vocals on this number are lovely and deep, with a nice rich quality. I don't think this is a particularly memorable song, but I like it. It's very easy to listen to and is actually quite soothing! I love that the melody perks up near the end with some great, regal-sounding beats. I found it quite exciting and it definitely kept my attention. The contrast is lovely, when it then switches back to a calm, sombre sound. The lyrics are brilliant, here are my favourite lines, which I think work so well because they are kept simple: "I can be pensive. You can be so sure. You'll be the poison. You'll be the cure." The Technicolour Phase by Owl City - 1 out of 5 Owl City recently had a number one with Fireflies for three consecutive weeks. The Technicolour Phase has a very similar sort of feel to Fireflies, with what I would describe as electronic beats throughout, creating a sort of space-like feel to it. I felt the lyrics should have been clearer, as at times they were hard to understand. I wasn't sure about the words in this song, as they didn't make much sense or mean anything to me. This is not my sort of music anyway, so perhaps it's no surprise that I am only giving it 1 out of 5. Sorry! Her Name is Alice by Shinedown - 3 out of 5 The piano at the beginning of this track is absolutely beautiful, reminiscent of The Corpse Bride. This leads nicely on to an American girl speaking over the music, saying, "If I had a world of my own everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is because everything would be what it isn't." This is very Alice! It worked well because it reminded me of the quirkiness of the film, even if her voice was a little irritating. The vocalist has quite a dark tone, which I'm not often keen on, but feel it works well in this song. I was a bit surprised however when he started screaming and this put me off a bit! I rated this a bit higher than I usually would because it's an original and quite complex piece of music. Painting Flowers by All Time Low - 2 out of 5 I am completely unfamiliar with All Time Low, but apparently they've been around for a few years in the US. This song is quite boy band-ish, but with a heavier edge to it. The lyrics fit beautifully with the overall effect the film had on me, but I think the song as a whole ruined this for me. Nothing special or distinctive. Where's My Angel by Metro Station - 2 out of 5 I know of Metro Station from their song Shake It, which I thought was a great tune, but only reached number 6 in the UK Charts. Where's My Angel has a similar vibe to Shake It, but is less energetic and poppy. I wasn't massively keen on this song, but it improves about halfway through, when the beat gets stronger and the tempo changes. Also, I don't see how this song relates to Alice in Wonderland at all! Strange by Tokio Hotel - 3 out of 5 I quite enjoyed the lyrics, even though they were pretty repetitive. It works well having both a male and female vocalist and is especially nice when they sing together. The two voices complemented one another well and created a pleasant harmony. The overall feel of the track, sort of gets lost amongst the many other pop-rock songs on the Almost Alice album. The ending was also a bit of a let down. Follow Me Down by 30H!3 featuring Neon Hitch - 2 out of 5 A very chirpy and rather cheesy sort of song, Follow Me Down sounds a bit like it's from the rabbit's perspective, tempting Alice to go down the hole! Well, in parts, the rest is pretty unrelated. This song is pretty annoying and I don't think I would want to listen to it very much because its one of those songs that stays in your head! Very Good Advice by Robert Smith - 3 out of 5 This is quite an unusual tune, but I actually think it would sound much better if sung by a female artist. Paloma Faith would do a good version I reckon! Again, it's not obvious that the music is inspired by Alice in Wonderland, but from research I have found that Smith in fact quotes Alice in Lewis Carroll's novel. The instrumental is very bad - a distorted sound that doesn't really work for me. For me this track is quite mixed and therefore I think it's only fair to give it a three out of five. In Transit by Mark Hoppus with Peter Wentz - 3 ½ out of 5 Mark Hoppus is one of the founding members of American pop punk band, Blink 182 and Peter Wentz is known best for being the bassist for Fall Out Boy. The repeated notes in the background of this track improve the overall sound and help create a playful feel to the song. This song is good musically-speaking, but I wouldn't say it was a stand-out track. Welcome To Mystery by Plain White T's - 4 out of 5 I enjoyed the enigmatic, almost creepy vibe to Welcome To Mystery, which of course matched the title well. This was certainly one of the better tracks for me. I think it has a fun sense of adventure and creativity and the lyrics are quite beautiful. There are moments in the song that remind me of one of those freaky fairgrounds, quite Halloween-like. It does however drag a bit, perhaps a gear change three-quarters of the way through would have helped to prevent this. Tea Party by Kerli - 4 ½ out of 5 It was great for me to hear another female artist on this album because I think that is one of the elements that Almost Alice definitely lacks. Kerli is a young, out-there artist that I think provides something a bit different, so I can see why she was asked to contribute to this album. The song starts off in a childlike manner with a light, fun melody, which made me think of sailors for some reason! This song has lots of interesting layers to it, vocally and musically. I recommend listening to Tea Party - even if it's not your thing you will appreciate it in one way or another. Probably. The Lobster Quadrille by Franz Ferdinand - 5 out of 5 I really like Franz Ferdinand, who have bought us some great songs, including Take Me Out. I was impressed to find that The Lobster Quadrille is a poem from Alice and this song is a musical version of the same poem. I loved the powerful vocals. I think this may have actually been in the film too because it sounds pretty familiar. As you would expect, the lyrics are bizarre! But that's not to say they don't work because I think it sounds brilliant. Always Running Out of Time by Motion City Soundtrack - 4 out of 5 Motion City Soundtrack is another American band. Always Running Out of Time has a great beat which gives this song a wonderful energy. I thought the guitar riff in the background was a bit repetitive, but I suppose this is just being picky! The male vocalist on this track has a much brighter quality then most of the others on the album, which helps this song to stand out from the rest. Also, a nice bit of tambourine at the end! Fell Down A hole by Wolfmother - 3 out of 5 Wolfmother are an Australian Rock band and I was very surprised that I liked this song! The music is not as heavy as I'd expected but still makes me want to bop along! The electric guitar in this is interesting, as they play around with the distortion in places. At just over five minutes, this is the longest song on the album. I started to feel this because when I thought it was about to end, turns out there is another two minutes to go! Hmm... White Rabbit by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals - 4 out of 5 The whole of White Rabbit is about moments from Alice in Wonderland and I found this very effective. The introduction is interesting and I love the first lyrics - "One pill makes you larger and one pill makes you small." White Rabbit has quite a familiar feel to it and reminds me of a pop song from the nineties, but I can't think which one! Unfortunately the song goes a bit down hill at the end with remnants of music that lasted too long. Conclusion As you have seen, this compilation of Alice-related tunes is a mixed bag, ranging from Owl City's rather dire contribution, to the fabulous The Lobster Quadrille by Franz Ferdinand. In fact, on average the songs worked out at just over 3 stars each. The overall vibe is largely pop-rock, which generally speaking is not my thing anyway, but I think there are some really great songs on this album. Well, amongst the riff raff, that is! I do believe there should have been a larger number of female vocalists on this album. Partly because Alice herself is, of course, female. I also found that the women on this album had some of the most strong, memorable songs. I am also someone who generally prefers female vocals anyway. I also think the album as a whole would be improved if it included more genres. I would like a couple of pop songs (from artists such as Girls Aloud), the odd ballad and perhaps even a bit of R&B and hip hop - why not, hey!? The cover of the album is a wonderful picture of Johnny Depp's Mad Hatter, in front of a white background. I think this image is really stunning and eye-catching. Although it almost seems wrong to have a picture of just The Hatter, when the album is named after Alice. Surely she should at least feature on the cover? Almost Alice is maybe not what I expected. I suggest researching a few of the songs for yourself before purchase, which currently costs £8.95 from Amazon and Play. I hope my review has given you a clearer picture of what this album is really about and now I leave it to you to decide whether or not Almost Alice is for you!
The dreams I'd had. Such high expectations. But like a shooting star, they came crashing down to earth... After reading so many delectable reviews about Lush products on Ciao and Dooyoo, I caved in and bought myself a nice little lot of Lush goodies from their website! Amongst these spontaneous purchases was one bath ballistic - Supernova. Not only did I love the magical name of this bath treat, but it was pink with ribbons! "Awesome," I thought. ===A secret account of my fleeting rendezvous with Supernova=== Carefully selected from a range that included ducks, balls (no, that's not what I mean!) flowers and even a robot, Supernova was, in many ways, The Chosen One. Her mission - whether she chose to accept it - was to make my bath a spectacular experience and brighten up my day. But my encounter with Supernova translated into a sadder tale than I had hoped. We never saw eye to eye. She let me down. I'd expected her to be bright and bubbly, light up the room. But alas, she disappeared on me. One moment she was there, a light pink whirl, and the next - gone. Sweet-tempered Supernova always left behind a faint aroma; I could never quite tell what it was. She had boasted of "a posh cocktail of orange and cognac oil," but it was never that fancy. I know its mean, but to me, she smelt more of kitchen cleaner. A nice one, yes, but kitchen cleaner all the same. At least, however, we departed on good terms. She left me a present for afterwards - gorgeously soft skin that smelt lightly perfumed. But I just couldn't work out what that smell was. Some jibed "soap," whilst others cried "rose" or "lavender." Either way, I was happy. Supernova had left me a sweet, gentle goodbye. I can't say I'll always remember her, or that it was great while it lasted, but she was certainly an individual. Bold and beautiful. Wherever she went, she left a colourful trail of paper ribbons from her hair. ===Getting down and dirty with the details=== Lush Supernova bath ballistic cost a pricy £2.95 and is intended for just the one bath. It weighs in at 200g. I bought it as a treat, but was disappointed with certain aspects of the product. Firstly, as the ballistic plummeted into my lovely warm bath I had expected a dramatic effect. Maybe not an actual bang, but at least a loud fizz! Unfortunately for me, this wasn't the case and I could only hear a grumbling noise from the bath bomb once my ears were beneath the surface of the water! Strangely, every now and then it would go too close to my skin and I'd feel a funny little tickle from the tiny bubbles that wasn't too pleasant! As I mentioned above, instead of the luxurious, thick bath bubbles I had hoped for, a light pink foam hovered at the top of the water for a few seconds before vanishing. I am led to believe that it is only Lush bubble bars that make bubbles, not the bombs, so perhaps this is my mistake for making that assumption. Nevertheless, the Supernova bath bomb eventually turned my bathwater a lovely dusty pink colour, which I was more than happy to loll about in. Partly to help the environment and partly (the larger part) to get rid of my little sister for half an hour, I offered her my lovely pink bath afterwards. She gladly accepted and I got a nice chunk of peace and quiet in return! I was impressed that the coloured bits of tissue paper were present throughout the entirety of the ballistic and not just on the surface, purely for show. Even so, the tissue paper quickly sunk to the bottom of the bath where it couldn't be seen. Rather pointless to have it in the first place then, really. I felt the aroma could have been more distinct and more feminine. I would have liked the citrus smell produced to be a little less sharp. I feel something more delicate, such as jasmine, would have complemented the orange and cognac oil. With the aid of the warm water, it did help me to unwind a little, but ideally I would have liked to feel even more relaxed! It did cost me nearly three of my lovely pound coins, god damn it! It was a pleasant surprise for the scent to linger after I had bathed. Also, my skin felt wonderfully smooth and looked clean and fresh. === Would I buy this again? === For myself, no. I want to experiment with a wide range of different products from Lush and find the prospect of this quite exciting. I remember from my youth (the time when I was younger than 19, which I am at present!) sampling an amazing bath ballistic full of shimmery glitter, which clung to one's body - perfect for a night out. I'd love to try that again! Or the lovely fresh lemongrass fragrance of Avobath, which I bought my Dad for his birthday. I would, however, buy this Lush Supernova bath ballistic for an older child or a teenager. I'm not going to gender-stereotype though. I think the younger generation may be distracted by how aesthetically pleasing this is! It is, of course, also more adventurous then your average bath product and really looks like you've made an effort. I would, therefore, recommend this as a gift, but it's not necessarily to my tastes.
BBC One has been established for just less than 75 years and is still producing many television programmes of various genres, in order to provide for different audiences. But is it doing enough? Has BBC considered everyone when scheduling their television? I spent this afternoon researching into the channel... ====Children's TV Programmes==== Between 3.05pm and 5.15pm on a weekday, BBC One plays a variety of programmes aimed at children. The main programmes that are on from Monday to Friday are 3rd and Bird, Dirtgirlworld, Dennis & Gnasher, Shaun the Sheep, Muddle Earth and Newsround. The shows are usually linked together by a few moments with the CBBC presenters - a diverse range of vibrant, overly enthusiastic young men and women. 3rd and Bird is an animated series aimed at pre-school children. The voices of the characters sound like young children. I find it quite sweet, but I don't think I could stand it being on everyday! BBC One claims that in every episode the characters "learn lessons about diversity, tolerance or perseverance." Dirtgirlworld encourages youngsters to care for the environment, whilst Muddle Earth and Dennis the Gnasher are cartoons aimed at the slightly older child. Shaun the Sheep is quite entertaining for a wider range of ages and created by Aardman Animations - makers of Wallace and Gromit. Through researching the main programmes the BBC offers for children, it is clear to me that the focus is too heavily on animation. I'd like to see more quality children's drama like The Sarah Jane Adventures. However, most of the shows are educational in some way, without boring its young viewers. Newsround is probably the prime example of this. It presents the news in a way that interests our youth and encourages them to get involved in the show. I also feel slightly let down by the total abundance of children's television at the weekend. Thankfully, Doctor Who will soon be starting again on a Saturday evening, but whatever happened to Live & Kicking!? ====BBC News and Weather==== BBC One provides both regional and national news shows at various times of the day and is accompanied by a great website. They stick to a fail-safe, classic way of delivering the news to their audience, with headlines, followed by a more in-depth analysis of the news, which sometimes include interviews. The presenters remain neutral, politically and otherwise, unless they are on regional news where, understandably, they promote local people and events. I can't help but notice though, that the women are all slim and pretty, whilst most of the men are ageing and not very attractive! Hardly seems fair... Recently, BBC News has gone down in my estimations, after misreporting statistics from a Unite Against Fascism protest I attended this weekend. On the other hand, I was surprised to see the Sky News report was much more balanced and accurate. Great Britain is renowned for being a country of rain, rain and more rain, with our very changeable weather. I suppose it is a difficult job to accurately report on the future weather, but I just wish they got it right more often! ====Drama on BBC One==== ===EastEnders=== As some of you will already know, EastEnders is one of my favourite programmes and is one of the most popular on BBC One. Episodes air four evenings a week, with an omnibus on Sunday. For its 25th anniversary, EastEnders did a live episode which revealed who killed Archie Mitchell. Nearly 17 million viewers tuned in that night, compared to their usual 10.8 million. I think EastEnders is great at consistently producing quality, realistic drama. The acting is mostly at a very high standard and it tackles some very important issues, alongside everyday matters that we can all relate to. ===Doctors=== The daytime Soap on BBC One is Doctors, which has just reached its 10th Anniversary with just under 3 million viewers. I think Doctors does the best it can with a much lower budget. It has tried a few different ways of filming and storytelling and has also covered some important topics. It is not nearly as captivating as EastEnders, but is still rather watchable and throws a bit of medical education into the drama! ===Casualty and Holby City=== I don't take much interest in these two programmes, finding them a bit repetitive and samey. I know they're not always medically accurate, but I think they do the best. The acting is quite good and there are often great special effects. I should think this attracts a similar audience to ITV1's The Bill. ===Doctor Who=== I have mentioned this already, but Doctor Who returns very soon and our family can't wait. I believe this is the best show for the whole family to watch. There is a great mix of science fiction adventure and human relationships. Doctor Who often tackles issues like racism and war in an entertaining and thought-provoking way. ===Other Drama=== There are some other great dramas I have seen on BBC One, for example, Torchwood, Lark Rise to Candleford and Mutual Friends. But there just aren't enough of these types of programmes! I really think that BBC One must continue focusing on this area and improving the regularity and quality of dramas. ====Daytime Television==== I find that daytime television on BBC One doesn't compare well with their rivals at ITV, who have the greatly popular This Morning and Loose Women under their belts. There are several programmes about making money at auctions and a couple more about houses. Not my kind of entertainment! Although they have recently started showing a new series of Missing, which I find a little more worthwhile. ====Light Entertainment==== In the light entertainment category comes The Weakest Link and Mastermind, which have remained the same for a number of years. The quiz show format goes down quite well in the early evening. The One Show is a magazine-style programme that has cropped up over the last couple of years. Presented by Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley, they interview various celebrities, discuss relevant topics and educate their audience on history, gardening, nature, the environment and science. I think The One Show is quite a good idea, but for me the show can be dull one day and really interesting the next, depending upon what they have planned. Friday Night with Jonathan Ross is a late-night programme that interviews stars from both the UK ans America. They have some brilliant guests and I always find it enjoyable to watch. Jonathan Ross, as we all know, has received various criticisms over the past year, but I still find him humorous and entertaining. Reality TV shows like Strictly Come Dancing and Andrew Lloyd's Webber's searches for musical stars are, in my opinion, much better than those you will find on other channels. I'm not entirely sure where all the profits from votes are going, but on the whole they are pretty good entertainment that the whole family can experience. ====Is the TV licence good value for money?==== Last year one would expect to pay £142.50 for their annual TV license. This money is mostly used to fund all BBC services, including their TV channels, radio stations and the website. When considering a person's opinion on the Television Licence, I would say that, generally, people tend to fall into these three groups: * People who are against this fee being a legal requirement and believe it should be optional. * Some believe the cost should be lower in order to make it better value * Those who are content with the service, feeling reasonably happy to pay the cost. I fall into the last group, particularly with the company's efforts to make it affordable for all, with a variety of payment schedules to break down the cost. I know this is a subject that can cause a lot of debate amongst members of the public, so to keep a bit of focus to my review, I have decided not to go into this issue in too much detail. ====My Opinion==== Overall, I believe that BBC One has a handful of TV programmes that the whole family will enjoy, with the rest being aimed at specific audiences. I think that children have a good range of programmes in the small slot they have, but this should include more shows with real people in them, rather than animals or animations. There are very few things that are aimed specifically at the elderly, but I suppose BBC One presume that they enjoy the selection of daytime programmes provided, alongside evening programmes, like EastEnders. Again, I can't think of anything in BBC One that is aimed at minority groups, but a lot of their programmes, namely EastEnders and Doctor Who, incorporate characters of all different ethnicities, religions, both sexes, those with disabilities and characters of most sexual orientations (although I am yet to see a transgender character). I believe this helps to tackle discrimination and makes acceptance of different individuals more likely in society. In my opinion, it is particularly good for children to have a wide variety of role models when they're growing up. For adults, I can see there is a wide range of different programmes, so I suspect everyone will discover something they enjoy on BBC One. BBC One always goes that extra mile to support charities, with big events held every year for Sport Relief, Comic Relief and Children In Need. They do very well to utilise celebrity faces in order to encourage the British Public to fundraise and sponsor. I am certain that BBC One is a very good quality channel and is in fact the most watched in the UK. Naturally, not everything on there is to my taste, but it is the channel that I place the most faith in.
I don't know about you, but I like to loosen up around lunch. Kick back, relax and hand myself over to fun, carefree television. I'm not claiming that Loose Women is top-notch quality viewing, but it is guaranteed to be a good laugh. Each day, Monday to Friday, four celebrities present a discussion programme, with two different guests appearing on the show each time. These four ladies vary from day to day (I will go into this in more depth later) which helps to spice up the programme. The hour includes the ladies debating the chosen topics - today's being "Are you a fan of holding hands?", "How do you keep boredom out of your life?", "Were you born with dancing shoes on?" and "What do you think about schools monitoring your child's weight?" So, as you can see, the topics are pretty general, although often relevant to what has cropped up in the media that week. What really makes them interesting is the way the loose women chop in with their own tales and often have completely different opinions from one another. The gang are an interesting mix of personalities who have come to be a loose woman from a variety of careers; some are journalists or presenters, others actresses and singers. You wouldn't necessarily recognise them all, but I'm pretty sure that being on this panel show has made them known to a more mainstream audience. =====Meet the Loose Women===== Each day one woman leads the others, introducing the topics and managing the discussion, ensuring that things don't get out of control! Typically that is Kate Thornton or Andrea McLean, but lately Ruth Langsford has been filling in a lot. I've not been too keen on this, finding Friday's 'This Morning' just bearable when she presents it with her husband, Eamonn Holmes. Andrea is my favourite to take this role, as she comes across as very experienced, but still sweet, kind and friendly. Kate Thornton is relatively new to the role, but I think she's fitted in well. It's interesting to see how much her presenting skills have improved since her Pop Idol days. The other Loose Women are: * Carol McGiffin * Jane McDonald * Denise Welch * Sherrie Hewson * Coleen Nolan * Lisa Maxwell * Zoe Tyler * Lynda Bellingham * Lesley Garrett At first I disliked Carol, but I soon started to enjoy her controversial view on topics which constantly left me screaming at the television! Over time she has found a younger man and she seems much happier now. Her toy boy is a constant source of teasing as is her alcohol habit, but you can't help but enjoy these running jokes! I love vocal coach Zoe Tyler for her child-like sense of fun and Coleen Nolan for her sarcasm, boobs that any woman would be jealous of and the way she incessantly flirts with the gorgeous male guests! Like most of the Nolans, she has managed to make a great career after her original success with the band. Denise, Sherrie, Lisa and Lynda are the actresses of the group, whereas Jane and Lesley are both successful singers. Lynda has recently starred in the West End production of Calendar Girls and has an autobiography that has just come out. (In fact, it's amazing how many of the loose ladies have released books lately!) She is incredibly elegant and sophisticated with a very distinctive voice and brings such a presence to the show, as well as representing the more mature lady. Sherrie is also a little older than most of the gang. Most of the women think Sherrie is a little mad, but I sort of get where she's coming from most of the time! She is very loveable and sometimes painfully honest about her past. Jane is very down-to-earth and quite traditional. She only stopped living with her Mother very recently! I find Lisa Maxwell and Lesley Garrett slightly irritating. They both have good hearts, but I don't particularly identify with either of them or miss them when they're away. Last, but not least, is 'Waterloo Road' star, Denise Welch. She is always hilarious and pours her heart out, not thinking of the consequences until afterwards! She is very cheeky and full of disgusting, side-splitting innuendos. Denise is definitely a favourite of ours! ====Opinion==== This programme has continued to run for nearly a decade and this year won a National Television Award. And yes, I did vote. With this great blend of females appearing regularly on the show, it's not a surprise that it's pretty successful. The set has been updated in the last year and now has a swish, modern feel. The walls and desk are a variety of plums and purples, with some silver shelves, vases and elegant flowers. It is a lot better than it used to be and has spruced it up. I couldn't fault their set really. It never fails to amuse me that the studio audience is so enthusiastic and loud throughout the show! It's pretty impressive actually. The guests they have on the show are really a mixed bag. I suppose Robbie Williams is the most famous celebrity that has recently been on the show - they certainly made quite a big thing of it! You may or may not be interested to know that Robbie is, in fact, a dedicated follower of the show and tunes in everyday, which I'd say is a rather good endorsement! However, the guests aren't always that extraordinary! There is a general influx of reality TV show contestants, though thankfully these are usually from 'Dancing on Ice' or have returned from the jungle in 'I'm A Celebrity, Get Me out Of Here!' Some are pleasant and engaging like Hayley Tamaddon, but if they're naturally a bit bland then the loose ladies do their best to get something out of them. And if all else fails, they come in early, quizzing them on their opinions in relation to one or two of today's topics. Naturally, Loose Women suits its target audience of women not at work, for whatever reason. But I do feel it should try and draw in male viewers in some way, even if it is just a short feature presented by a man, for men, or something. I know people who accuse the show of being anti-men and I sort of see where they are coming from, but I don't think this is strong enough to offend me at all. They all love their men, but openly criticise or analyse them. Perhaps though, men doing the same thing would not be able to get away with this. Overall, I think Loose Women is a light, enjoyable programme that's worth a watch, but not something I would worry about missing.
My title is based on a Mark Twain quote, which suits this film beautifully! 'An Education' has received countless nominations for everything from 'Best Screenplay' at the British Independent Film Awards through to 'Best Direction' at this year's BAFTAs, with the relatively unknown Carey Mulligan famously winning 'Best Actress' at the BAFTAs. With such critical acclaim linked to this film and plenty of quality movie clips shown at BAFTAs, I was immediately enthralled. Would 'An Education' live up to its expectations or would it be one huge disappointment? ====Synopsis==== Set in 1960s London, sixteen-year-old schoolgirl, Jenny Meller, is discontented with her life. With an excellent talent for English, she is encouraged to go to Oxford, but throughout the film doubts whether this will be the best existence for her. Jenny meets older man, David, who shows her the world from a far more frivolous perspective, indulging her passions for the French, music and, of course, French music! All of a sudden, Jenny is taken by this crazy whirlwind of romance and surprisingly enough, is no longer keen to go back to her sensible, traditional existence. The film has a surprising twist and things don't turn out as you might expect, but I will leave you to discover this for yourself. ====Acting==== Personally, I believe the best performance was given by Alfred Molina who plays Jack, Jenny's Father. Jack is a man of great principles, who wants the best for his only daughter, but doesn't always show his support in the right way. Although the character is a tough, authority figure, Molina has interpreted him in a very human way in which one can relate to him, rather than feel he is a villain. A particularly touching moment is when he delivers an emotional apology to Jenny (well, a shut bedroom door with her on the other side of it) carrying a cup of tea and three custard creams! The writing here is brilliant and very well delivered by Alfred Molina. His experience of working almost consistently for the last 30 years have really paid off in this film. Kara Seymour, an actress whom I was previously unfamiliar with, plays the girl's mother, Marjorie. She supports both Carey Mulligan and Alfred Molina well, but I don't feel as though her performance was anything particularly special. The male lead, David, is depicted by Peter Saarsgard. In reality he is only 14 years older than his leading lady, but in this move the gap looks slightly larger, with Mulligan playing a girl 8 years her junior. I was shocked to learn he is in fact from America, as his English accent was perfectly faultless. I felt his acting was pretty good, but he was perhaps slightly too charming. Still, I suppose this explains why the young Jenny falls so easily for his sophisticated character. Carey Mulligan was absolutely perfect for this role, with the life experience to understand and comprehensively portray Jenny, but the youthful looks and slender body to be believably convincing as a sixteen-year-old school girl. I thought the character was interesting and her development throughout the film was engaging enough for me to enjoy following this young girl's journey. I loved Carey in the Doctor Who episode 'Blink' and fans of hers can look forward to 'Brighton Rock' and there are rumours about her playing Eliza in a new film of 'My Fair Lady.' I can't help but wonder if this is solely based on the likeness to Audrey Hepburn (who played Eliza in the 1964 version) that Mulligan displays in 'An Education.' Emma Thompson was of course good at the role of headmistress, but I'm not sure it was as "right" for her as the roles in 'Love Actually' and 'Nanny McPhee.' Dominic Cooper from 'Mamma Mia!' and 'The History Boys' plays David's dodgy mate, Danny. At first I felt this character was a little basic and bland, but there are moments of genius, where you can tell exactly what he means through his expressions alone. His partner, Helen, is played by the beautiful Rosamund Pike from 'Die Another Day' and 'Pride and Prejudice.' In fact, we recently met her after a performance of Ibsen's 'Hedda Gabler' in Bath. You will not believe how long this girl takes to come out of the theatre after a show! But at least she was polite and friendly. Anyway, back on subject! Her character is pretty ditzy, but in a more original and quite charming manner then most "ditzy blondes." Her character I think is there to show the typical socialite - living the high life courtesy of her boyfriend's dodgy dealings. She clearly isn't interested in education and is the sort of person Jenny could potentially become. But is this a good thing? ====My Views on 'An Education'==== This film has a very authentic British feel to it, right from the beginning when we see a beautifully shot scene in the good old rain, which has such an alluring greyness to it! This also successfully helps portray the way Jenny is feeling about her slightly mundane life. As the film progresses there are more vibrant colours and textures, which I feel give a fun, youthful effect. They complement the story and keep the audience captivated. The music too is often energetic and colourful, with a reel rich texture to it. I think the audience are completely with Jenny on her journey to a new environment, rather than disapproving of her behaviour and willing her to go back to school. I love the music on the credits, but most striking was the cabaret singer in the background, quite early in in the film. She just feels so right; her voice is gorgeous and her outfit just so perfect for the era. The scenes are all rather well shot and as I went into detail with above, the film is acted beautifully. One of my favourite moments is when David, Jenny, Helen and Danny go to watch the orchestra. The camera gently pans across their four faces. David and Jenny are fully enchanted, taken away by the music, where as Helen looks like she wants to be sick! Perhaps slightly too dull for someone who craves constant excitement. I'm also keen on the montage shot in France, a very nice representation of the sophisticate adult relationship Jenny is now enjoying, far away from her previous life full of boundaries, focus and education. One moment from this, where David and Jenny are lying together is used as the cover of the DVD. I feel it is a classic image - well chosen and attractive. Carey Mulligan's character has some beautiful dresses, which definitely celebrate Jenny's free spirit, a girl most certainly on the brink of adulthood. One of my favourite moments is her impassioned speech to the headmistress, where she describes on our country having "no life in it, no colour, no fun." 'An Education' is quite a subtle and beautiful film, but I fell that if anything it lacks a little bit of plot. Perhaps there should be a few more surprises that arise. Still, the pace as it is works for me. I watched the deleted scenes and the ten-minute featurette which are included with the DVD. I was particularly surprised that they decided not to include one scene, where David reveals some things about himself, which later prove to be untrue. I found this scene would have added to the betrayal we as an audience feel. Also, there is an alternative ending which I quite liked, but the ending they used was shorter and worked just as well. All in all, I think theses deleted scenes are of much better quality than any I've seen before and are quite interesting to watch. The featurette is also reasonably interesting and not too time consuming. The main theme in this film is life verses education. Other notable themes include coming of age, romance, culture, family values, seduction (of not only Jenny, but her parents too) and age differences in relationships. As you can probably tell, I believe this is a film you will appreciate not only for the charming story, but the acting, cinematography, costume and music. I hope this film survives to be a classic as I believe it is wholly deserved. I bought my copy for £10.95 from Amazon, probably more than I would pay for most films, but definitely worth it. Rated a 12 certificate, I recommend everyone watch 'An Education.' It is immensely enjoyable.
Time for a fun review I think! So after some difficult deliberation I have come up with what are currently my top 10 programmes. Over the years, I hope these will change as the BBC and ITV produce more comedies and dramas that are worth following every week - well, we can only hope! Out of all the reality programmes I've watched from time to time (my Mother follows them almost religiously), only one has reaches my Top 10. I just have to say, most reality television severely irritates me because it's like watching the same series over and over again. Also, it has in part taken the main channels away from making new dramas, as it is so much cheaper to produce these shows where millions of members of the public are willing to work for free. Anyway, rant over - let's get to the fun bit! ==== 10th - The Inbetweeners ==== The Inbetweeners is like a cross between 'The I.T Crowd' and 'Skins'! This hilarious comedy follows the journey that Will takes as he moves to a new state school sixth form. With his blazer and briefcase, he doesn't exactly fit in! Eventually he forms a group of friends, who are each in their own way very amusing to watch. Simon is clumsy with the girls, Jay boasts about his sexual encounters (when he in fact isn't getting any!) and Neil is brilliantly stupid. I think Neil has to be my favourite character actually. The actor went to East 15 Acting School, where I will be in September! Emily Atack (who recently went out on Dancing on Ice, much to my despair) and Emily Head (daughter of actor Anthony Head) play the two main love interests in the series, both very well. But of course it's not easy for this group of guys to get anywhere and you can't help but enjoy each cringy move they make! ==== 9th - Ugly Betty ==== Ugly Betty is the only American series I have in my top 10 and I admit that I have two of the box sets at home! Okay, so I know it is not the most high-brow, excellently written show but I love it all the same. Betty Suarez is charmingly played by America Ferrera, who definitely is NOT ugly! However, her clashing prints don't necessarily go down well with all the fashionistas at Mode, the magazine she works at. Wilhelmina Slater is another one of my favourite characters. The villain of the show, she spends every moment working out how she can become the boss of Mode. Her outfits are beautiful! The character is wonderfully over-dramatic and shocking, which works so well within the format of the show. I can't not mention Betty's first love interest, Henry. The relationship these two have (or for much of it don't have as they're both so shy!) is amazingly cute. I think I also fell in love with his character, played by the loveable Christopher Gorman. Ugly Betty is such a guilty pleasure and, once I got in to it, was highly addictive! ==== 8th - Coupling ==== Weirdly, as soon as I wrote Coupling down, Spotify changes to the show's theme tune, 'Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.' What a coincidence! Coupling reached 4 series, running on and off from 2000 to 2004. As I was only 10 or 11 at the time, it was even more fun for me to watch, considering its adult humour. Back then I didn't get all of the jokes, oh, how much has changed! Complete with oodles of sexual innuendos, Coupling also has a decent plot and the actors are great. The comedic timing is always spot on and the characters are not only believable but likeable. Written by the divine Steven Moffat, Coupling has tried some alternative methods of storytelling. The most memorable examples of these are '9 /2 minutes' where the same story is comically told from three different perspectives and the story interspersed with translations by Captain Subtext - explaining what the characters are ACTUALLY saying! ==== 7th - Doctor Who ==== Now, even I am surprised that Doctor Who has been placed so low on my Top 10, but I guess it had hard competition. I think Doctor Who is a little inconsistent; as there is the odd episode which doesn't really hold my attention. Also, I was not a big fan of either Martha or Donna. I have watched Doctor Who as a child, with my Mum, Step-Father and Granddad being massive fans! Prior to the new Doctor Who, my favourite Doctor was Tom Baker for his quirkiness, but they are all charming in a different way. I have also been to quite a few Doctor Who conventions, so I am well aware of the impressive number of dedicated fans this programme has! I was not disappointed when the new series came upon our screens once again in 2005, with Billie Piper playing the magnificent Rose Tyler alongside Christopher Eccleston as The Doctor. Thankfully, David Tennant stayed for the next four series, so even when the companions weren't quite so brilliant, we had this lovely, intelligent man to watch! There have been some incredible stories over the past 5 series and I am pleased to stay it is till going strong! Personally, I can't wait for Matt Smith to play the Doctor in April, as he is such a fantastic actor. ==== 6th - I'd Do Anything, etc. ==== Beginning with searching for a lady to play Maria in The Sound of Music, Andrew Lloyd Webber has created three series of this great show. Most recently was the hunt for a Nancy (Cleary the Barrowman wasn't enough for him!) and a little boy to play Oliver in, well... 'Oliver!' And, yes, I hauled myself and all my little hopes and dreams up to London to audition for the part. They were lovely, I guess they had to be being part of the BBC, but alas I got nowhere and sadly headed back home! To be fair though, it was a better experience than auditioning for most parts. The casting directors were sweet and encouraging and at least pretended to look like they cared about you. Still, I was hooked to the series. There were some brilliant - and some not so - versions of popular songs sang with a new edge each week to the nation and then the voting began. For me, the most memorable performance was Rachel's twist on Cabaret. Although she only came 4th, I recently saw her in the Queen musical, 'We Will Rock You' and I've heard she is soon going to be playing Elphaba in Wicked. So things have definitely worked out for the best for that one! Jodie Prenger won the part, but will soon finish playing Nancy, to be replaced by ex-Wicked star, Kerry Ellis! I suppose this show has a similar format to that of X Factor, but it's just a lot better. The judging is much fairer and there is no humiliation as they do not show the absolute failures. The competition is more exciting as it is closer between the girls, rather than a rock star verses an r 'n' b girl group. I also love the challenges they are set and best remember the time when these lucky starlets got to passionately kiss John Barrowman! Jealous? ==== 5th - Waking the Dead ==== There are many similar shows to Waking the Dead, such as Silent Witness, but I feel Waking the Dead is the only one which is consistently good. The storylines are always very complex and require your full attention. It never ends as you would expect and is gripping throughout. Each episode has 2 parts, each lasting an hour. It usually airs at 9pm, but I would not recommend that children or those of a sensitive nature watch it. They often show the corpses and the graphic way in which the person was killed. I can just about stomach this, but sometimes feel it's a bit unnecessary. The acting is excellent from not only the main cast, but the different artists that star in it from week to week. Their believability makes the story even more terrifying and has sometimes left me a bit jittery afterwards! ==== 4th - Queer as Folk ==== Originally, Queer as Folk ran in 1999, but I watched it last year on DVD after my parents bought it. I loved it! I really did...it is such a mixture of sensitivity, comedy and complex relationships. The characters are all very different. Charlie Hunman plays the ridiculously cute Nathan Maloney who starts the series a virgin to the gay scene of Manchester's Canal Street. Irish Aiden Gillen is arrogant and cocky, yet still charming as Stuart Alan Jones. If you watch Coronation Street or Strictly Come Dancing, you will be familiar with Craig Kelly, who in Queer as folk portrayed the sensible, loved-up Vince Tyler. The supporting cast are all very good, as is the writing by a family favourite of ours - Russell T. Davies. At times the programme is very emotional and beautiful -I would definitely recommend giving Queer as Folk a try. ==== 3rd - EastEnders ==== EastEnders has always been my favourite soap drama, one which I will always catch up on Iplayer if I happen to be out. As you probably know, the soap recently celebrated its 25th Anniversary with a live episode, which was terribly exciting. Judging by the ratings, I was not the only person eager to see how the cast got on with this challenge. Not too long ago EastEnders experimented with an episode starring only Dot, recording a message for her ill husband, Jim. It was interesting to watch and now I hear that there is soon to be a two-hander between Max and Stacey, both awesome actors. Last year I was lucky enough to attend a Q & A with Eastenders' Executive Producer, Diedrick Santer, whose most memorable moment was the casting of Ronnie and Roxie Mitchell. Apparently their chemistry was amazing, one of those moments you don't forget in a hurry. EastEnders is quite comforting for me, a show which one can always rely on I suppose. They have covered so many different interesting and relevant storylines over the years and I was impressed with how the show handled the sexual abuse between Tony and Whitney. Long may EastEnders continue! ==== 2nd - Sugar Rush ==== Now we are so near the end. Well done, if you have stuck with me so far! In a way, Sugar Rush is like the Queer as Folk for my generation. I was in my teens, at school when Sugar Rush was aired on Channel 4 in 2005. Finally, something that gave a positive spin on being gay! It was realistic too, they showed it was difficult for Kim to challenge her own identity, yet it was rewarding to watch each episode. You came away with a warm feeling inside. The acting was brilliant. Olivia Hallinan played the lead, Kim, whose family had just moved to Brighton. I had previously watched her in the Jacqueline Wilson ITV series Girls in Love. More recently, however, she has starred in Lark Rise to Candleford. Playing opposite her as Kim's no.1 desire was Lenora Crichlow, as bad girl, Sugar. Lenora has done incredibly well since and can be seen in Being Human and Material Girl. Overall, Sugar Rush is very, very funny but also sweet and touching with great character development and an endearing insight to life as a gay teenager. ==== 1st - Torchwood ==== Torchwood is almost like a grown-up Doctor Who, with sex, violence and adult themes. They have covered all sorts of topics, from a story set in a cannibal village, to a sex-crazed alien. As much as I love John Barrowman as the leader of Torchwood (Captain Jack Harkness) I have even greater fondness for the team that surrounds him. In the first episode Gwen Cooper, former police woman, joins Torchwood and her character is very much the audience. As she experiences the new and exciting wonders of Torchwood for the first time, so do we. It is great to watch the complexities of her relationship with boyfriend Rhys, as their relationship begins to breakdown as a result of Gwen's new work commitments. I think having this almost soap opera element to the show contrasts really well with the science fiction part. It's fascinating to watch how the Torchwood crew interrelate with one another and there are some beautifully subtle performances, interwoven in the episodes. Thanks so much for sticking with me and I look forward to hearing what you think of my choices! Littlepenguin x
***Karma*** The universal law of karma focuses on peace and inner harmony. In the modern Western World, we tend to think of karma in the terms of "what goes around comes around". So, if you do something good, that has a positive effect on the world, then this will come back to you and something good will happen. Naturally, the same is said to happen with negative actions, but I don't think Lush is focusing on that aspect in the naming of this soap. ***Why choose Lush?*** If you've ever been past a Lush store, you will recognise it primarily by the strong, sweet mix of aromas begging you to come in! I was very impressed to learn that all of Lush's products are handmade by their staff and rather sweetly have a sticker on it with a picture of the relevant team member! The products which turn out not good enough to be sold are sent to charities such as 'Save the children,' rather than chucked out with the waste bins. It is rare to hear of a company that cares so much for our planet, the people in it and the quality of the buyer's experience. *** Aroma*** Karma is such a distinctive scent from Lush. It is created with a combination of the happy hippy scent patchouli, orange, lavender and lemongrass oil...and the mysterious 'perfume' - Lush's way of keeping a small part of the recipe secret! I find the aroma very soothing and in some way it encourages me to de-stress and relax. And believe me, I am someone that needs constantly reminding! The smell is pretty strong, so if someone in your house wasn't keen they may find it offensive, lingering around the bathroom. But I think Karma is quite a soft, pleasing smell that can be enjoyed by men and women. I bought my Lush Karma soap from their website (www.lush.co.uk) but it will also be available from the 88 shops they own nationwide. ***Design*** When I think of Lush products I picture products of strange shapes, or magnificent colours. Sometimes with glitter, coconut flakes or bits of ribbon, but not this soap. With Karma soap they have stuck with simplicity and I am glad they have. There's no mess and it doesn't crumble off after use. This solid baby is a burnt orange in colour, which I think was again chosen well by our friends at Lush. It is almost like a wedge of cheese in shape, but has a raised area on the top. ***Application*** This solid soap is very simple to apply: 1. Rinse hands or bar of soap with water 2. Rub gently into hands until a light lather is created 3. Rinse again with water I suppose many of us nowadays are used to antibacterial hand washes and therefore the popularity of the hard stuff has gone downhill. In fact, I've heard that health and safety inspectors are trying to ban solid soap altogether, which I think would be a real shame. The only disadvantage I found was that it really stung when I stupidly managed to get a bit in my eye. But as your kids probably aren't as clumsy as me I suspect this to be a soap suitable for the whole family with a lovely clean finish. ***The Lush Karma Range*** There is a whole selection of products with this lovely karma fragrance. None of them are particularly cheap, but I will briefly list them here anyway: * Karma Atomiser (perfume) * Karma Bubble Bar * Karma Dusting Powder * Karma Komba (solid shampoo bar) * Karma Kream (moisturiser) * Karma Solid Perfume ***Overall*** Compared to other soaps Karma is expensive at £3.70 for 100g, but I definitely think it's worth it, what with the smell being so comforting and all! The soap's other highlights include being handmade, producing a clean finish and a beautiful aroma which lasts and lasts. This soap is also vegan and none of the ingredients or the soap itself have been tested on animals! How good is that!? So really, I end up with no resentment for the price which I have paid.
Ricky Gervais was recently interviewed on The One Show and this brought my attention to his film 'The Invention of Lying.' Believe me, it is very much his film, as he not only starred in it but was also scriptwriter, producer and director. Quite impressive really! It's amazing how well Gervais has gone down State-side after they bought 'The Office' from us Brits. In fact, his profile went so high that he was even asked to present The Golden Globes this year! So this film is pretty much American, except from Gervais himself, but I didn't find that detrimental to his form of comedy. In fact, the ensemble cast and his leading lady were all brilliant at performing his deadpan style of humour. The film begins with a charming introduction from Gervais, who explains that the world of the film is an alternative reality in which it is impossible to lie. This has very harsh and humorous consequences - particularly for "loser" Mark Bellison (Ricky Gervais) whose colleagues openly admit they hate him and women freely confess they are out of his league. I think it's fair to say that this completely honest world is established very thoroughly and even quite believably. From a bus advert stating "Pepsi - for when they don't have Coke" to a cheap motel's description being "for intercourse with a stranger." These little details ensured I was chuckling throughout and were often very clever. 'The Invention of Lying' is essentially a romantic comedy (just a very high concept one!) which leads us nicely onto our beautiful leading lady, Jennifer Garner, playing sensible Anna. You may remember her as Vanessa from 'Juno' and she also stars in the more recent 2010 film 'Valentine's Day.' Mark somehow manages to bag a date with Anna. Although the pair has a reasonably enjoyable time together, Anna really doesn't want to have "little fat kids with snub noses" and so dismisses Mark and his bad gene pool. And so Mark's bad luck continues as he is fired from his job as a scriptwriter for screenplays (all their films are factual, as they can't lie!) and can't afford his rent money. So completely down on his luck he goes to withdraw his last £300 from the bank...but the system is down...so the lady asks him how much he would like to withdraw? This is the moment where a switch trips in his brain, the words £800 come out of his mouth and he is handed the money with no query. The invention of lying. But will it work with everybody? Well, after convincing a gorgeous lady that the world will end unless she sleeps with him, I think it's fair to say that it definitely works! The film continues and soon Mark goes to visit his Mum at a residential home. Being greeted with the frank "Are you here to abandon an old person?" His Mum is fatally ill and when she goes into hospital confesses to her son that she is absolutely terrified of the nothingness that waits for her. Desperate to comfort his poor Mother, Marc invents a magical place where we go after death - your own mansion with all the people you've ever loved there and eternal happiness. But as his Mum dies, poor Mark hadn't accounted for the doctors listening in awe and this is when the trouble really starts! I won't give the whole story away, but I will say that I very much enjoyed the digs at religion being made up. The way he does it is not offensive, just very funny and rather apt. There is a hilarious scene where Mark has long dark hair and hasn't shaved for months. He staggers out of the bed with his white duvet wrapped around him and slips on his sandals - well, you can guess who he looked like!! The Acting Firstly, Gervais was good enough to take on a leading man role, but I would describe his acting as satisfactory, rather than incredible. His highlight had to be in hospital with his Mum, where for once we got to see some real emotion and truth, the catch in his voice was just beautiful. The relationship the two characters had was utterly believable and I was gripped. Jennifer Garner was a pleasant surprise and I think she managed the humour really well. Her character was strong and the development was nice to see during the course of the movie - from a rather shallow single woman to someone who can see past all that. Her chemistry with Ricky could have been more intense, but I still got that they shared a sweet sort of love between them. I believe Jonah Hill was quite a catch to get in this movie and I know Ricky is a big fan of his. He played the depressed, suicidal colleague incredibly well, but it was a relief for the audience when Mark's lie made Frank start to believe in himself and his future. Mark's other best mate, Greg, was portrayed by Louis C.K - someone who played an utterly convincing moron! He was very gullible and in some ways weak to begin with, but come the end of the film he is the one encouraging Mark and picking him up when he's down. The other notable character for me was that of Brad Kessler, an arch nemesis for Mark, who was played by Rob Lowe. As his character was such a slime ball it was great watching the moments where he suffered! The Special Features I sat through all the extra features for this film and have to admit they were disappointing. I felt it was all too light hearted, so much so that I didn't feel I learned anything about the making of the film or their experiences working on it - other than learning the cast and crew would regularly fire toy guns at one another and that Ricky has an excruciatingly annoying laugh and continuously corpses. My Overall Opinion This film is certainly worth watching. It is continuously funny and has enough of a plot to want to keep with Mark and Anna's story. The lead and supporting actors are all very good (as mentioned above). If anything I feel it could have done with a stronger female presence, but perhaps it was aimed more at men than us women. Maybe Anna could have had a best friend? The Invention of lying did reasonably well, reaching number 5 at The Box Office in it's first week of release. I would definitely recommend this film if you're looking for something that doesn't take itself too seriously. A good laugh!
I was not a fan of The Noisettes. I heard a song at a friend's party and just had to ask her who they were and now I have the album downloaded onto my ipod. I took a chance buying it after liking just one song, but was it worth it? The Noisettes is formed by guitarist Dan Smith, drummer Jamie Morison and of course, vocalist Shingai Shoniwa from Zimbabwe who all met at the BRITS school for performing arts in London. As a team they perform some of the songs acoustically and others with electric guitar. I'm no expert on guitar or drums, but as a singer I can tell you that Shingai's voice certainly is something quite incredible. Beautifully deep and powerful, it resonates throughout 'Wild Young Hearts.' On their website they describe this album as being about youth and acting young, but personally I don't think that comes through. However it is definitely individualistic and I would compare the band with artists such as Amy Winehouse and Paloma Faith. Track list 1. Sometimes 2. Don't Upset The Rhythm (Go Baby Go) 3. Wild Young Hearts 4. 24 Hours 5. Every Now And Then 6. Beat Of My Heart 7. Atticus 8. Never Forget You 9. So Complicated 10. Saturday Night 11. Cheap Kicks Never Forget You, Saturday Night and Don't Upset The Rhythm have all been released as singles, with the latter reaching their highest position of no.2 in the charts, which is maybe quite surprising as I wouldn't have described their music as commercial pop. It's too good for that - but perhaps the British public is starting to develop a more sophisticated taste? I think my favourite song has to be Atticus, the nearest to a ballad on this album, but nothing like Angels by Robbie Williams! In fact I don't think I could compare this song to anything else I've heard. Shingai pours bags of emotion into this song (which I think is lacking in many of the others). Although her voice is mellow and soothing, it still has a powerful roar and never lacks that extra kick! Her latter harmonies with a male vocalist add a rich layer to the song. The lyrics are quite complex and at times intensely beautiful. This is a song I could listen to again and again - and maybe still not know what it means but love it all the same! Her impossibly smooth voice is really highlighted on this track and it leaves you wanting more. However, not all the songs are as to my taste. Although none of them are in any way terrible, a few are lacking that certain something. For instance, So Complicated, an upbeat one which seems very similar to some other numbers. It's not bad to dance to, but definitely gets repetitive by the end. Then there is Cheap Kicks, which is trying too hard to be something different and doesn't quite hit the mark, wavering somewhere between a ballad and an up-tempo song. The lyrics aren't very strong, interwoven with clichés. This is one of those tracks I'd rather skip, as it has no effect on my mood. Unlike 24 Hours, which is one of the better album tracks on 'Wild Young Hearts.' I found Shangai's delivery of the interesting lyrics quite touching, loving the way she made them sound so personal to her. Some of my favourites: "I'm pulling my hair out. I can't get to sleep. The bed feels so empty. I can still smell you on me. A moment in space, a look on your face when I say hello." Their simplicity combines wonderfully with the music and the effect is great. Of the three singles, I would say that Never Forget you is the best, with Don't Upset the Rhythm as a close second. Never Forget You is probably the most Winehouse sounding of them all, which I quite like really. It's such a catchy song which I welcome sticking in my mind. For me the lyrics of the chorus are a little predictable, but the band and vocals in unison help the song along. I love singing along with the verses and I find it always a pleasure to listen to. Don't Upset The Rhythm is probably the most famous of them all. I've often heard it played at clubs, where everyone screams along to "4, 3, 2, 1!" and dances like crazy. It's a fun number and is pretty original. I actually haven't heard Saturday Night on the radio or music channels so was a bit surprised to hear it had been released as a single. Well, this Saturday Night is nothing like the cheesy song we all know and love (or love to hate). In particular, this song oozes feminine charm and has an encouraging element of girl power. The beat is pretty good and there are elements of space age/trance here and there, which if nothing else is a bit different! I think that although this song starts off very together, it lacks momentum towards the end. The songs that I haven't mentioned in detail are typical of The Noisettes. The leading lady's dark musing tones are rather haunting. She definitely demonstrates her incredible range in this album, in a far earthier way that of Christina or Mariah. It's quite clear that all three members are excellent musicians, but I think it would have been nice to have a little more variation in tone. I would like to see the odd traditional ballad. I remember being surprised and quite impressed to hear Ave Maria on Beyonce's latest album. I'd find it particularly interesting to hear how The Noisettes would put their twist on such a classic. I don't regret buying this album for the 4 or 5 tracks that I really like, but it is not something I could listen to again and again. If you like their general sound then you will absolutely love this album.
Hi fellow Dooyooers! I’m back and this time I’m writing about a shower gel. But this is not any shower gel, it’s a superb one, found in the deep dark depths of our local Boots store. “Tell me more about this brilliant must have then!” OK. As I’ve said, you can purchase it at your local Boots shop for around £2.99. It’s 250mls worth, which is the equivalent to a quarter of a litre. “So what does it look like then?” It’s in a jazzy looking clear package with black, bold writing. The top lid is black and has a hook so you can hang it up by the shower. The lid inside is unscrewable and has a hole to squeeze a small amount out. “But how exactly do the contents look and feel?” It’s a bright orange liquidy substance, which easily slips out of your fingers. It comes out easily and you only have to use a tiny amount. “Does it smell nice though?” Yep! It smells ever so fruity. This orange and grapefruit mixture is yummy, but be warned the smell doesn’t last long. “What are the ingredients?” Well, they include water, grapefruit oil and sweet orange oil. It uses natural oils and is not tested on animals. “Does it do the job?” Well, it cleanses as well as a bar of soap, refreshes your skin and you don’t have to put much effort into it. So I guess so! “So what does everyone else in your family think of it?” Mum (32): “I really like it, that’s why I bought it after trying out a sample.” Dominyk (10): “It seems to be nice and silky.” Emilia (9): “It smells lovely, almost good enough to eat.” Viktoria (6): “It’s very bright and yummy.” Well now you’ve heard what me and some of my family feel about this product. I’ll let you decide t he rest for yourself. If you need/want to know anything else, contact me via a comment. Hope your experience will be as good as mine <smile> Littlepenguin xxx
If you stopped by my house, you would often hear me blaring out music from my bedroom, and if you are really lucky you might get the chance to hear my singing along to them too (my poor neighbours)! Well, this is one of the CD's in my collection, which I used to play continuously, but not so often now. TRACK LISTING 1) Oops! … I Did It Again (3.31) 8 out of 10 2) Stronger (3.23) 8 out of 10 3) Don’t Go Knockin’ On My Door (3.14) 2 out of 10 4) (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (4.28) 10 out of 10 5) Don’t Let Me Be the Last to Know (3.50) 4 out of 10 6) What U See (Is What U Get) (3.14) 7 out of 10 7) Lucky (3.25) 8 out of 10 8) One Kiss From You (3.23) 3 out of 10 9) Where Are You Now? (4.39) 10) Can’t Make You Love Me (3.16) 11) When Your Eyes say it (4.06) 12) Dear Diary (2.46) TRACK ONE – Oops!… I Did It Again This song is meant to be based about the captain of an imaginary space shuttle who has supposedly fell in love with Britney Spears. Britney has misled him into believing that she feels the same way and I guess that is where the title comes in. This is a fairly loud/noisy track, depending on whether or not you like the song. The video is set on the moon and she is wearing a skin tight, red leather cat suit. The dance moves seem quite easy to learn and the moves look good too. TRACK TWO – Stronger This sings very different from all her others so far and she has a change of image which didn't last long though. There is also another choon sung by another American female artist, which reminds me of this. I can't remember much about it but I do know that they both released the singles at around the same time. It includes the lyrics 'Here I go, on my own, don't need nobody, better of alone.' this reminds me of some of her more recent songs which have all been about her indepe ndence and showing that she is growing up. The music and effects are very over the top and dramatic with the added lightening effect now and again. TRACK THREE – Don’t Go Knockin’ On My Door This is one of those songs which stays in your head for hours, even if you don't particularly like it, and irritates the hell out of you. I can live listening to it every now and then, but often feel the urge to skip to the more lively and exciting ones. This is more like some of her early slushy songs and is a little repetitive and tiresome. TRACK FOUR – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction This song is my favourite. As far as I know, it has not been released as a single but it is a really cool song which is great to listen, sing and dance too, all at the same time if your feeling energetic. It starts off calm and slow then picks up a pretty fast pace and carries it throughout the whole song. I love making up groovy dance moves and singing my heart out whenever I play this song. The only thing I would say is that my Grandad couldn't even understand what the lyrics were and kept complaining about the loud noise, whoops! TRACK FIVE – Don’t Let Me Be the Last to Know This is another boring romantic song with those impossible-to-reach notes. The video is set on a tropical beach with sun, sea and sand. Britters is wearing a cute belly top with matching white trousers (I think) and doesn't do much dancing in the vid. All she seems to do is just sit around wearing little bikini tops and staring lovingly at her boyfriend. This is one that I tend to turn off, as it makes me want to throw up! TRACK SIX – What U See (Is What U Get) This song is just made to make you feel good about yourself and I think it has a kind of girl power theme added in too. It's cross between Spice Girls, Destiny's child, and of course, Britney herself. The music is very upbe at and one to wake you up on those mornings when you feel that you just want to lie in bed all day. A lot of the song has background singers in, which I feel makes the song more powerful and alive. TRACK SEVEN – Lucky This is a song, which shows two different sides – the fans and the movie star’s. Britney plays Lucky the film star and tells the story as her. The song tells us that Lucky is very lonely, "And she cries, cries, cries in her lonely heart thinking, if there's nothing missing in my life, then why do these tears come at night?" This has been number one and is brilliant to listen to, the video is great and her costumes are absolutely brilliant. TRACK EIGHT – One Kiss from You This is a pretty poppy song, which is sung, in typical Britney style. Although I don’t like this tune that much, I will say that the lyrics in the song are clear, and easy to remember, But beware, there are some hard to reach high notes! I don't think there is really much I can say about this song really. TRACK NINE – Where Are You Now? This song starts slow, but speeds up after time. It is extremely boring and I don’t really like it. It doesn’t reach Britney’s usual standard, I have to say. This is definitely one to fast forward on your tape recorder, or skip on you Compact Disc player. I haven't heard this one for over a year now and wouldn't want to either! TRACK TEN – Can’t Make You Love Me I’ve not much to say about this song, only that it’s speedy and some of the lyrics are quite moving. Once I’ve stopped the CD, the only bit I can remember is the chorus. It's hardly very dancy and doesn’t exactly ant you to make you jump of your chair to to dig some moves. I'd rather they replaced this with the song 'We love rock and roll' which is from her first ever movie, Cross roads. TRACK ELEVEN – When Your Eyes Say It The words to this song are simple, and the tune sounds like a lullaby. There is no way this song would be a major hit if it were ever sold as a single, unless it had an interesting song on the other side. This is one to play if you of your kids are having trouble getting to bed; it makes me want to drift off even when I am in a really active and alert mood! TRACK TWELVE – Dear Diary This starts with Britney gossiping with her friends, but then changes, so she is writing entries in her diary. She tells her diary her deepest thoughts, feelings and desires, shame we don't hear about them really, that would be well interesting! Dear Diary gets high pitched in places, but I think there’s more talk in it than singing. OVERALL Personally, my favourites are Oops…I Did It Again, (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction and Stronger. Most of them are good songs, but I would miss out tracks nine and eleven. The album is quite good value for money, but would be even better if it had the best tracks from this album and her latest album combined. Hope this helps, Littlepenguin :)