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I agree with others that believe football is being ruined by money. To some extent it's money that improved the game , now the whole issue has gone over the top.
Up until 10 years ago, every team playing had some belief that they could challenge for trophies. Today, the majority of managers, running so-called smaller clubs start the season knowing they have little or no chance of winning anything, and what makes it worse is that's what they tell everyone. I guess it takes the pressure off if they manage expectations but this can't be what the fans want to hear.
My own club Tottenham Hotspur continue to spend loads of money, then they sack the manager, and the spending starts again.
The fans don't need anyone to tell them that they won't win the title. They already know that!
The poor use of money coupled with the impatience of the board causes the real problem. However, it gets totally ridiculous when one club can offer over £100m for a single player, and pay the player c. £500k per week.
How on earth can the smaller clubs compete with that, and what on earth must the fans think when their hard earned cash is abused in this way.
Despite some of the pundits claiming this is good for the premier league, surely it's better if all the clubs were competing on a reasonably level playing field, and that every club competing had a reasonable hope that they could win something.
I wish the FA and the premier league would do something to even things up a bit. Player loyalty might return; club chairmen might be more selective about their choice of managers, and all the fans might start enjoying the game again.
I used to buy and sell quite a lot on ebay, and got introduced to Paypal because of this. Paypal promise buyer protection but more so in those days, the last thing on their list of intentions, was 'buyer protection' The fact that I had been sent a worthless item, having apid a lot of money for something quite unique, didn't seem to make any difference. As far as they were concerned, this was an issue of minor description difference, and they wouldn't take it any further. In the end I had to get my credit card company involved, who then processed a refund. This caused me an awful lot of unnecessary work.
The issue isn't just the fact that this happened, it was Paypal's attitude to customer service, that appeared to be non existent and the disrespect they gave me.
Initially I couldn't even find a phone number on their site to contact them. Their email contact system had such a narrow list of issues that it didn't really allow for proper communication of the issue. My card company gave me a contact number, and their staff were decidely rude, and all the body language made it clear that they didn't want to help.
Needless to say I don't use them any more, and would be interested to hear about anyone else's experience of Paypal
This is an absorbing story, and a very enjoyable read that keeps you interested throughout. The story unfolds in two separate parts which made this book even more interesting despite the feelings of disappointment when the first part ended like a damp squib. As soon i started reading the second part though, the excitement started again and I was not disappointed.
The book is set in an isolated Peak District village called Scardale around the time of the Moors Murders. The step-daughter of the local squire goes missing and the local police are called in to investigate. The main character is a fast-track graduate detective, who has made rapid progress to the rank of Detective Inspector. During his investigations the villagers (all of whom are related in some way or another) close ranks against him as he tries to solve the mystery of the missing girl.Throughout the investigation, he faces hostility and silence from the villagers who all appear to know more than they are sharing but yet again appear to be innocents.
The first part of the book ends and I was left very disappointed as I thought the book had ended.
The second part of the book moves to the 1990s and the story takes a new and intriguing twist that leaves you wondering and trying to guess what is about come. You cannot put the book down simply because you know the ending is going to provide a surprise.
A highly recommended read for anyone who loves mystery thrillers.
I don't eat too many chocolates but if my wife doesn't include a box of these when packing by bags every Sunday, I am very disappointed.
I like the mixed box which includes the dark, the white and two versions of milk chocolate. I don't like the dark chocolates too much so I tend to cut the dark and the white in half, put them together as black and white balls, and then they are excellent.
Lindt claim to use only the best ingredients and finest and purest materials including the finest grades of cocoa beans to give their chocolates unequaled quality, flavor and appearance. These are then mixed to their traditional recipes and manufactured in their highly efficient and state-of-the-art manufacturing plants using the most advanced machinery in the industry.
The resulting chocolate balls have a delicious chocolate outer layer and a smooth rich truffle centre, and they taste exquisite.
They are very well packaged in a bright red box which is eye-catching, and at c. £5.50 for a 200g box, they are excellent value.
They are totally irresistible, so if you like chocolate, be warned because these chocolate truffle balls are very addictive.
1) What did you do in 2008 that you have not done before?
Well, I got on an aeroplane for the first time in 10 years (does this count?).
2) Did anyone close to you give birth?
My sons partner gave birth to my beautiful grand daughter in2007, and my daughter announced that she was pregnant and due to give birth in 2009 (I don't think this counts either)
3) Did anyone close to you die?
4) What countries did you visit?
Cyprus (on vacation); France, Holland, Germany, Spain (on business)
5) What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008
More hair on my head. It gets really cold in winter and I look stupid in a hat.
6) What days will you remember from 2008
Birthdays, Xmas, my sons engagement party, my family holiday in Cyprus and my daughters announcement.
7) Did you suffer any Illness or injury
Thankfully nothing serious
8) What was the best thing that you bought
My 24" IMAC. No more viruses!
9) Who's Behaviour has Merited Celebration
My grand daughter. She started calling me Pappou (means Grandad in Greek)
10) Who's behaviour made you appalled and depressed
BT, British Gas, all the other Gas Companies, and all those greedy Bankers (did i spell it right?)
11) Where did most of your money go?
Extending and developing my house, basically making it into two homes. My beautiful grand daughter lives right next door!
12) What did you get really excited about
The family holiday, and every Friday coming home to see my family for the weekend
13) what song will you remember from 2008
'If i were a boy' by Beyonce (so glad she isn't)
14) Compared to this time last year are you ... happier, fitter, more productive
Not much different to last year in all categories but i will be getting fitter, ready to look my slimmest best at my sons wedding in July.
15) What do you wish you had done more of
Walking. I drive to the hotel, then take a taxi to and from work, and walk just a few steps to my favourite restaurants. 2009 will see me walking to work.
16) What do you wish you had done less of
Sitting on a chair in my hotel room.
17) What was your favourite television programme
Match Of The Day 2 (especially on the rare occasions that Spurs didn't lose).
18) Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate last year
Not really. I developed a strong dislike for Bankers, and the bosses of Energy companies, and i still get angry when I think about what happened last year but hating is a very short term emotion for me.
19) what has been the best book of 2008
i read three of Dan Browns books last year. The best was Angels and Demons
20) What was your greatest musical discovery
That i wasn't the worlds worst singer. Did you see some of the hopefuls on X Factor?
21) What did you really want to get in 2008
Good news on the News Programmes. They seem to love telling us about the bad things.
22) What did you want but didn't get
Gritters on the icy roads in Birmingham. The signs were up saying 'Gritting in Progress' but no gritters. Do they really exist?
23) What was your favourite film of the year
I don't watch too many films. in fact I can't remember any other one, so it has to be Mel Gibson's 'Apocalypto'
24) What did you do on your birthday and how old were you.
Dinner with all my family in one of my favourite restaurants in Beaconsfield where I live. The waiters/waitresses congregated round the table after the main course and started singing "happy birthday..." i turned round to see whose birthday it was, and my wife started laughing at me. "I knew you had too much wine!"
She remembers everything, so I'll ask her how old I am and let you know!
25) Who was the best person you met
The Cypriot policeman in Paralimni. It was late and we were trying to find our hotel in Protaras after a long day of traveling. I went in to get directions, and he said (in Greek) "didn't I arrest you earlier for dangerous driving" I understand Greek very well but can't speak it too well, so I answered in English "Yes but i escaped and now I'm lost."...."You are lost? Why you are lost"..."Where you want to go?"
Needless to say his directions weren't much good either.
26) Tell us a valuable lesson that you learned in 2008?
Never ask for directions in Cyprus. Everywhere in Cyprus is "Behine thee beeg hotel, neearr thee bitch".
I wasn't looking forward to this film but when my wife finally convinced me, I must admit, I really did enjoy watching it,
The film is mainly centred around a young warrior called Jaguar Paw, and it is set in the twylight days of the mysterious South American Mayan civilisation. The film follows Jaguar Paw whose tribe is slaughtered by hunters. He is captured and taken to the Mayan city where he faces the same harrowing death as many other prisoners. Driven by the power of his love for his family, he manages to escape, and is pursued by the hunters. A frantic adrenaline pumping jungle chase ensues. To add to the tension, this is all happening while his wife and young son are stuck in a hole in the ground as the heavy rain pours in.
Once the actual chase starts, this film is absolutely 'a thrill a minute entertainment' as it is full of familiar cliched scenes including waterfall jumps, quicksand, poison darts, and head-chopping but all this merely adds to the drama, and somehow makes the film more 'Reality' rather than 'Hollywood'
Whilst this film was written/directed and produced by Mel Gibson it is the quality of the actors, who are all indigenous Americans, that make this film universally first-class.
I strongly recommend you watch this film, and you will be glued to the telly throughout. One word of warning though, there is a lot of violence and there are violent scenes throughout.
Being of Greek origin, Greek yoghurt has been part of my diet since childhood. I'm so pleased that this is now so easily accessible and sold in most supermarkets.
The Total website describes their yogurt as "smooth, rich, creamy. delicious, to be served with fresh fruit, crunchy cereal or simply on its own, Total 2% Greek Yoghurt can help you lead a healthy balanced lifestyle without compromising on taste.
Yes, it's all of these but they missed the best part! This yoghurt is absolutely fantastic with Greek honey. Add loads of honey to a pot, mix it in, just a bit (don't fully blend it) and you have one of those most delicious snacks available.
According to Total it is suitable for vegetarians, diabetics, pregnant women and people on gluten-free diets, not to mention how healthy it is for growing children. It's made using traditional Greek methods from completely natural ingredients, it's 100% natural, and is a good source of protein and calcium. It is pasteurised, live, and contains no artificial additives, sugars, preservatives or thickeners. It is full of proteins, and is produced by fermenting milk with healthy cultures.
I eat this for breakfast most mornings and it helps to quick start my day. I really can recommend this for you and your children will love it with honey (what a great way to get them to eat Honey!).
I lifted this receipe from the Total website. My whole family loves cheesecake so i'm going to treat my wife by making this delicious dessert.
3 reduced fat digestive biscuits
10g low fat spread
150g TOTAL Greek Yoghurt
1 tbsp good quality lemon curd
Thin slice of lemon and lemon zest to decorate
1. Place the digestives in the polythene bag and roll a rolling pin across them, or crush with fingers until they are small, even crumbs
2. Melt the low-fat spread in a pan and add to the biscuits. Mix well until all the biscuits are lightly coated.
3. Place a small metal ring on a serving plate. Pour the biscuit mixture into the metal ring and press it down firmly with fingertips.
4. Open the yoghurt and add the lemon curd and a little lemon zest. Spoon this mixture on top of the biscuit base and chill for at least an hour.
5. Remove the metal ring and add a slice of lemon rind to serve.
This is my personal camera, and it is one of my prized possessions.
I paid about £1200 for the camera which came with a decent but fairly standard sized lens. I have several other Canon lenses which I purchased over the years, all of which are fully compatible. I notice that several places are selling the body only for between £850 and £1,000, so it's worth shopping around.
Canon claim that the EOS 50D bridges the gap between the novice and the professional due to it's combination of high-speed and quality performance. It features a 15.1-megapixel CMOS sensor for outstanding quality images, DIGIC 4 image processor for fine detail and superior colour reproduction, and the improved ISO capabilities (up to 12800) for shooting in very dim situations. It has a refined 3.0-inch Clear View LCD (920,000 pixels) monitor, plus a number of automatic image correction settings and HDMI output for viewing images on an HDTV. The camera includes a BP-511A Li-ion rechargeable battery.
It has automatic and manual focus for fine adjustment, pop-up flash, optical image stabiliser and built in red eye reduction.
It is compatible with most operating systems which include MS Windows Vista, MS Windows XP, MS Windows 2000, Apple Mac OS X 10.3 - 10.5
The picture quality is outstanding (as you would expect from a camera of this quality). It is very sturdy, weighing in at around 0.75kgs and due to it's magnesium alloy body it's not too heavy despite being very strong and robust.
Highly recommended if you want this type of camera, and are prepared to pay the extra money for the quality soecification.
I stayed in this hotel for up to 5 days a week for the best part of 12 months when I worked on an assignment in Trafford Park a few years ago.
It's in an excellent location on the outskirts of Trafford Park (the opposite end to the Trafford Centre), so getting to work was a five minute drive, and getting to the centre of Manchester was a 10 minute drive.
The hotel is on seven floors and I always booked one of the two suites which are located above each other on the sixth and seventh floors. Because of the number of guaranteed nights, they gave me an excellent rate. The sitting room was perfect for me, consisting of a comfortable sofa, table, side tables, nice lamps and TV. The bedroom always looked very inviting with lots of pillows and cushions, a good sized wardrobe and dresser. Both rooms were decorated in various natural stone colours making them quite appealing and easy to live in. The bathroom was also fine with a bath/shower and everything else you need.
The hotel reception area is spacious and always looked clean. It has an interesting and welcoming bar which I found very relaxing when having a beer with colleagues.
The Restaurant was designed more in cafe style but I must say the food was excellent, and well worth at least one visit per week during my stay.
The problem with this hotel is that on match day (the hotel is situated opposite Old Trafford) they lease the car park to Manchester United, who then rent it to the fans, so car parking for the hotel guests can be impossible before 11pm on such nights.
I would only recommend this hotel for anyone visiting/working in Trafford Park because there are so many much better hotels in the town centre.
This is such a fantastic durable fun toy set.
I bought the large set for my grand daughter for Xmas. Even though it's meant to be for 3 plus (she is 18 months) she just loves it and up to a point, knows what to do.
This is the large set they do (as far as I know) and comes with it's own table and has loads of track, bridges, viaducts, a crane and sidings.
The table is self assembly but you get everything you need to build it (screw driver, screws, Allen Key etc.). Build time is around half an hour, so that's not a problem either.
The bridge makes different sounds as the train passes through which adds enormously to the interest. As for the train itself (there are in fact two of them), the locomotive takes batteries, has lights and makes choo-choo train sounds. The set includes loads of carriages, and a few little people that fit snuggly into some of the carriages.
The track is well made out of a light coloured hard wood, and fits together a bit like a jig saw puzzle.
I also bought her the remote control train which comes as a separate item, and this adds to the interest of the overall layout. Hers is the white version (I believe they do a red version of the same train).
In some ways, she is a little young for it because occasionally she decides to lift the track, so she hasn't quite got the hang of this part yet but she does love putting the trains and carriages onto the track, and starting the engines off. She spends ages playing with it and often by herself, it so it's good for those times when she needs occupying but Mum and Dad (not to mention us grandparents) don't have the time.
This toy is also very engaging for adults and anyone else who likes big layout sets with moving parts, so it makes it easy to play together.
I got quite a good deal on the internet (paid about £200 for the lot) but it's well worth it, and so far it's given her (and everone else) a lot of fun.
The other thing to note is that this is a quality built item, mainly of wood, but the plastic parts (trains, carriages, people) are really well made, and look like they will last forever.
Train sets are always great fun for boys and this one is good for girls also.
Jack Daniels No7 is my favourite whiskey and in fact my favourite alcoholic drink of all.
Put lots of ice in the bottom of the glass, pour lots of whiskey, give the ice a short roll and shake (careful not to spill any) and sip your way to heaven.
After my meal at Cielo's in Birmingham, they always offer me a free drink, and more often than not it's a Jack Daniels on the rocks. Even though they make it a very very large one, once I have one, I want another.
Jack Daniels is claimed to be the oldest distillery in the USA and the product itself is called a Tennessee Whiskey and not a Bourbon. It's taste is pure nectar, and unlike any other whiskey I have ever tasted. This is down to the fact that every drop is mellowed through charcoal made from sugar maple. Bourbon isn't mellowed in this way, so that's why this is not a Bourbon. Because of it's fermentation process it's known as a 'sour mash' whiskey which does it no justice whatsoever.
Interestingly enough, and maybe it's because I drink it on the rocks, i have never had a hangover if I stick to JD alone.
Apart from drinking it in bars and restaurants, I buy mine at home via the internet (loads of places offer similar deals, so check out the best one at the time of ordering). I usually get 6 x 70cl bottles for c.£105 or c. £17.50 per bottle which last a few months.
Wonderful, so what are you waiting for?
A few months back, my wife purchased this stuff, and said we should all be mindful of the fact it's there, just in case.
About 3 weeks ago her flu started, and when I got home after my week in Birmingham she was really suffering. I rushed to get the nasal spray but the box hadn't been opened (hence the reason why she is ill maybe!).
Any way I squirted this stuff up my nose, and survived the weekend. I've been doing this throughout the last few weeks. No-one else in my family has, and therefore it's no surprise that they have all come down with the flu. So far I haven't caught anything yet (although lots of signs but no full on flu).
This Nasal spray has been developed by Procter & Gamble (P&G) to stop the common cold in its tracks.
According to the Times Online, Vicks First Defence makes no claim to cure colds, or to prevent them but it does claim to reduce the chance of developing a full-blown cold by up to 50 per cent if taken promptly at the first sign of symptoms, and to cut symptoms by up to 40 per cent if the cold/flu develops.
According to researchers, this new treatment aims to trap the cold virus using a viscous gel, disarm it by creating an environment in which it cannot flourish and remove it by increasing the snuffles and therefore, washing it away. If it works, and it looks like that's a possibility, P&G has cracked a problem that has defeated the Common Cold Research Unit of the Medical Council forever (so far).
According to the scientists that developed it, the reason it works is that it attacks the cold by physical rather than pharmacological means and it uses mildly acidic gel, which the viruses do not like as they prefer alkaline conditions, so they are partially inactivated. The spray also causes a mild nasal irritation to stimulate secretions to help to wash the virus away.
So far it has worked for me, and I would strongly recommend it because I know how surrounded I have been with these heavy cold/flu's and I have only experienced the mildest forms ( a few sneezes now and again.
It costs c. £6.95 and it comes in a white non pressurized bottle with grips for squirting, and because it is a kind of gel, it doesn't run back down your nose like some nasal sprays do.
This is another of my favourite films of all time. If I'm honest, i've seen it twice and still not sure if I trully believe who Keyser Soze is.
Anyway about the film. Following a truck hijack in New York, five well known criminals are arrested and brought in for questioning. None of them is guilty, and so they get together and plan a revenge operation against the police.
The operation goes well until Keyser Soze, a legendary Hungarian master criminal arrives on the scene, and things start to go wrong for the gang. It appears that none of them actually know who Keyser Soze is but it transpires that each one of them has wronged him at some point, and pay back time has now arrived. Throughout the film, you are left to wonder, as they do, who Keyser Soze actually is.
This epic film makes you guess all the way right up till the last scene, and then you realize you've been mislead from the beginning of the movie.
If you haven't seen this film, where have you been? I can highly recommend that you find the time over the Xmas/New Year break, (and you need lots of time), and see it. The film is full of plots, twists and turns and keeps your mind alert throughout.
The cast of characters is intriguing and all the actors (Kevin Spacey, Gabriel Byrne, Bryan Singer, Stephen Baldwin, Benecio Del Toro) perform their roles to perfection. No wonder Kevin Spacey won Best Supporting Actor after his masterful performance as a club-footed con man.
In the late 1940's, Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is wrongly sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison for the murders of his wife and her lover in the late 1940s. He is sent to Shawshank Prison to do hard time.
The film follows Andy's life in prison where he meets Red (played by Morgan Freeman), a man who can get you anything you need for a price.
Andy soon learns how to get by in the brutal, cutthroat confines of prison life. His quiet strength slowly earns the respect of much of the prison staff and his fellow inmates, most notably Red .
Andy gets a rock hammer and several posters off Red, including one of Rita Hayworth. They become great friends which helps Andy settle into prison life, and over the years they form their own gang.
Andy's seemingly stoic acceptance of his unjust imprisonment hides a fierce determination for freedom.
This beautifully made movie features brilliant performances from the entire cast, with an uplifting message about human spirit, comradeship and the redemptive value of hope.
Based on the Stephen King novella, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, this intriguing adaptation is easily one of the best films ever made, and definitely one of my favourites of all time.
Quite a few years ago my wife booked a show at one of the West End theaters for us two and several members of our extended family. The show was Mamma Mia.
We all enjoyed it and left the show feeling really happy and everyone was humming tunes all the way home.
A few nights ago, we watched the DVD together (my wife had already seen the film at the cinema and kept insisting I should watch it with her on DVD). Anyway, I succumbed, and we sat and watched.
If you haven't seen it, it's about a girl called Sophie who is getting married and she wants her dad to be at the wedding. Unfortunately she doesn't know who he is so she starts to search through her mother's diary which is quite revealing but not conclusive as it identifies three men that could be her father.
Unbeknown to her mother, she invites all of them to the wedding.
Mamma Mia is set on a Greek island. It stars Meryl Streep, Julie Walters, Christine Baranski, Dominic Cooper plus the three potential dads, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard.
Throughout the film you see beautiful sunshine sights and listen to some of the best music ever written.
To Sophie's surprise, all three potential dads turn up and the whole film is a fun packed spectacle from then on. All of the stars sing, and
the film is brilliant even if the singing isn't the best you ever heard, but it does make you singalong.
I don't want to give too much more away as that would spoil some of the mystery of the film but if you want to feel good, just watch this film and start singing.