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Bristly Badger "Sett Piece" (Deep underground)

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The Road
The Road
by Cormac McCarthy
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrifying and intimate, 7 Aug. 2008
This review is from: The Road (Paperback)
The fundamentals of this book are a man and his son making a journey in search of sanctuary. But the world is unrecognisable. McCarthy is a master of pace: long periods drift by in which little happens but you want to keep turning the pages, drawn further and further into the relationship played out between the two, desperate to know the outcome. But every-so-often, when something significant does happen, McCarthy picks up and sweeps along at a terrifying rate. He's used the same trick in other novels, including All the Pretty Horses (Border Trilogy) and Blood Meridian: Or, the Evening Redness in the West (Picador Books). This is easily his best. At times, I was so petrified for the two characters that my adrenalin went through the roof and I couldn't sleep afterwards. The book may have had more of an impact on me because I am a father to two sons and I could sense the foreboding that drives the father. The subtle intimacy is beautifully crafted on a bleak and blackened stage. Enjoy.


Blood River: A Journey to Africa's Broken Heart
Blood River: A Journey to Africa's Broken Heart
by Tim Butcher
Edition: Hardcover

10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointingly dull, 7 Aug. 2008
Tim Butcher is a journalist, no doubt good at reporting the facts (insofar as any journalist can). But he's not a writer. The main problem is that there is no change of pace throughout this book. It doesn't matter whether he's planning the journey (a good third of the book) or actually on the journey in dangerous places: it just plods along with the same dribble of information. Butcher is obsessively worried about the fact that the Congo is not the place that it was when the Belgians exercised their extreme authority there. So far, so unsurprising. And this obsession with what's been lost means that none of the places or the people ever come alive in the present. I wonder if the journey was all a bit too much for Butcher and lost the plot fairly early on. Although he meets numerous people along the way, he seems to be - and feel - distant from everyone. They're just thin sketches. It's not clear whether that's because: Butcher wasn't really interested in them; didn't make the effort to talk to them; is a rather stiff, diffident Englishman who can't interact; or just lacked the spirit to record the interactions. If you've enjoyed O'Hanlon's Congo Journey or love travel writing by Thubron and Murphy, you'll be sorely disappointed by this.


PURE TEMPUS-1S, Luxury DAB/FM Clock Radio - Cherry
PURE TEMPUS-1S, Luxury DAB/FM Clock Radio - Cherry

43 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good sound and easy to use: great value, 24 Jan. 2008
My iconic Sony Digicube has woken me every day for three decades. But it turned 30 this year and was promptly killed by my two year-old. I chose this Tempus-1S over other alternatives because it's compact and attractive, with a wide range of features. You can pay more for the XT version but I have to say I couldn't see what the extra money was really for. With this I can plug in my iPod which is great, the alarms are easy to set, the clock dims well at night and, of course, the sound is excellent. The SnoozeHandle on the top is great and it does two extra things: if you have the display set to full screen clock, the handle brings up the radio station and date if touched while the radio is playing; and at night when the radio is off, touching the SnoozeHandle brightens the clock display which could be handy for the partially-sighted. Everything can be adjusted manually anyway - it's very user friendly. The "natural sounds" are a gimmick really. The "birdsong" is a plaintive robin, the "rainfall" and "small waves" make my wife run for the loo and the "thunderstorm" scares my kids. Neat.


Sennheiser RS130 - Wireless Headphones
Sennheiser RS130 - Wireless Headphones

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great sound at great range, 24 Jan. 2008
I needed some headphones to listen to pumping movies when the kids are asleep in the rooms upstairs. These are just great and the surround sound effect is amazing for action movies. The clarity is fantastic but most impressive is the range. If I'm listening to digital radio from the TV instead, I can walk through our relatively large house and still get clear reception despite having up to four block walls in the way, with a couple of substantial RSJs in the ceilings, too. Two things that might worry potential buyers: the cradle looks a bit tacky plasticky and whilst the insulation from external sound is satisfactory, it's relatively easy for people to hear what you're listening to if the volume's up at the higher end of the scale. But for me, they work just fine. My two year-old little'un tried them today too - it was great to see him bopping around with these on but I probably won't see them again until he leaves home.


Creative GigaWorks T40 Speakers
Creative GigaWorks T40 Speakers

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic sound from a compact system, 24 Jan. 2008
I shopped around and almost purchased Harman Kardon Soundsticks with a separate sub-woofer thing to go under the desk. I chose these instead because they are relatively compact and leave me with more leg room. They arrived fast, were dead easy to set up and WHOOMPH - what a great sound. They're plugged into my Mac Pro and iTunes and whack out a cracking Paul Weller. There's a degree of distortion in the base at the very highest volumes, but that's so loud that my ageing ears can't take the volume anyway. I've also been playing some wildlife sound recordings of woodland bird song and it's just perfect, picking up the subtleties of each call and song. Base and treble are easily controlled, as is volume, with the knobs on the front. In case you're wondering, the speakers do come with black soft fabric covers, but can pop these off if you're one of those people who prefers to see the speaker circles as in the product photo. If you are a stickler for colour, the speakers are significantly darker than the photo suggests. For less than £80, they're an outstanding buy.


HTML, XHTML, and CSS: Visual QuickStart Guide: With XHTML and CSS (Visual QuickStart Guides)
HTML, XHTML, and CSS: Visual QuickStart Guide: With XHTML and CSS (Visual QuickStart Guides)
by Elizabeth Castro
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quick and clear, 2 Sept. 2007
This great value guide helped me enormously in getting to grips with HTML and CSS. I had tinkered with web design but needed to go further. I found application-based manuals only gave you a single solution to the problem. In contrast, this guide clearly illustrated the principles so that I then understood what to do in the application (although it was often hard to find out which tools/window to do it with). So I'm buying the manual for Dreamweaver CS3, too.


Fauna Britannica
Fauna Britannica
by Dr Stefan Buczacki
Edition: Paperback

27 of 34 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dismal, 2 Sept. 2007
This review is from: Fauna Britannica (Paperback)
I had the misfortune to be given this book as a present by a well-meaning relative in the very late 1990s. It rapidly made its way to the charity shop and the "yours for only a fiver" special offers in cheap book stores. It is best given to children who need pictures to cut up for a school project.

It's very rare that I condemn a book so severely, but this is truly awful. I don't remember HRH Prince of Wales taking a prominent role in the edition I was given - he only wrote the forward and Buczacki is the author. HRH's prominence now suggests that he's been pushed up the scale to give it some credibility (I assume that HRH does have some credibility in some circles?).

What dismayed me about the book was its dismal lack of depth and decent research. I turned first to badgers - in which I take an interest - and was appalled to see that the most recent reference to them came from 1983 or thereabouts. It completely failed to comment on the fact that the Government was killing them in a mass culling experiment at the time the book was published or on the vast range of additional research on them that had been published since '83.

From that and a number of other shallow species portraits, I concluded that the author had cobbled this together from whatever sat on his bookshelf at the time, regardless of how out-of-date it was. I got no sense that Buczacki had carefully researched each species.

It is hardly surprising - I got the sense that this and the equally dreadful Fauna Britannica by Duff Hart-Davies, published at the same time - was a cheap and rushed attempt to cash in on the runaway success of Richard Mabey's Flora Britannica (an incomparable piece of original research that has now been enhanced by the equally impressive Birds Britannica, which Mabey wrote with Mark Cocker).

Both Birds and Flora Britannica took the trouble to invite the populace to submit their knowledge about birds and plants, and both books are referenced accordingly and with respect, making them a rich resource for cultural historians as well as curious naturalists.

Fauna Britannica does no such thing. Oliver Rackham, the great rural scholar who pours scorn on those who make reference to older works without first assessing their veracity, would loathe this cheap re-hash of rural myth and speculation which will forever be in the shadow of Flora and Birds Britannica. Don't buy it.


Garden Natural History (Collins New Naturalist Library, Book 102)
Garden Natural History (Collins New Naturalist Library, Book 102)
by Stefan Buczacki
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £45.00

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 2 Sept. 2007
In contrast to many magnificent New Naturalists, this is a disappointment. The problem, I think, is that it starts from the false premise that gardens are commonly viewed as artificial places which are not great for wildlife. This is nonsense. I can hardly think of a naturalist whose interest was not inspired in their garden as a child and every naturalist I know still revels in their garden's wildlife. There is some interesting stuff in here, but it is not interesting enough. Moreover, Buczacki's standard of research is now questionable, following the publication of his appalling Fauna Britannica in 2002 - it's most recent reference to badgers, for example, was from 1983. This suggested that Buczacki had cobbled it together from whatever was on his bookshelf at time, no matter how out of date it was, and had failed to do much in the way of original research.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 8, 2014 10:50 AM BST


Wild Flowers of Britain and Ireland: A New Guide to Our Wild Flowers
Wild Flowers of Britain and Ireland: A New Guide to Our Wild Flowers
by Marjorie Blamey
Edition: Paperback

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The widest-ranging and most portable of the good guides, 2 Sept. 2007
If you want a readily-portable guide, this is the one for you. It is more manageable and covers a wider range of species than the recently revised Wild Flower Key by the late, great, Francis Rose (who first came to my attention more than 20 years ago as the only person in the world reputed to have seen every species of wild plant in Britain). I suspect that Fitter (and his son) are now contenders and since this guide also includes grasses and many non-flowering plants (such as ferns) it is very good value.

Check, however, Clare O'Reilly's warnings about accuracy in guides by Blamey and Fitter published in 2003 (this and one discussed below), which you will find under reviews of Francis Rose's Wild Flower Key (of which O'Reilly is the updating author!).

An alternative choice for home (rather than in the field) is Cassell's guide to Wild Flowers of Britain and Northern Europe, also published by Fitter and Blamey in 2003. It is unbeatable value when purchased with Cassell's parallel and thoroughly enjoyable guide to Trees. On the downside, some of the illustrations lack the precision needed for a perfect ID guide.

If I had to choose between Rose's revised Wild Flower Key and this A&C Black handbook, I'd choose Rose, buying additional books for grasses etc. If I had to choose just one book for the field, I'd choose this one. But I have both, and Cassell, and use all three.


The Wild Flower Key (Revised Edition) - How to identify wild plants, trees and shrubs in Britain and Ireland
The Wild Flower Key (Revised Edition) - How to identify wild plants, trees and shrubs in Britain and Ireland
by Francis Rose
Edition: Paperback
Price: £17.00

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably the best overall, 2 Sept. 2007
Chooosing a wild flower guide is a challenge - each has its flaws.

For many years, I relied on Francis Rose's wild flower key , although some of the keys were a bit dodgy. I'm delighted that Rose's 1981 guide has finally been updated by Warne. It has an authority that not readily challenged, except by Fitter (see below). This new edition includes an improved key which, as many naturalists will confirm, is the fastest way of identifying a species once you've gained a little experience with using it.

Another alternative for the naturalist is Fitter, Fitter and Blamey's The Wild Flowers of Britain and Ireland: A New Guide to Our Wild Flowers, published by A&C Black. That lacks a key, but makes up for it to some extent with a mini-key that heads up certain groups of difficult plants. It also covers a lot of plants that Rose does not, including grasses and ferns, which makes it a better choice for beginners or those looking for a single guide.

For a great book at home (rather than a field guide), I enjoy Cassell's Wild Flowers of Britain and Northern Europe, also by Fitter and Blamey. When purchased with Cassell's parallel guide to Trees, it is great value and a joy for browsing, but lacks of a key. On the downside, some of the illustrative details get a little fuzzy here and there, sometimes lacking precision.

Both Blamey and Fitter guides, however, were published in 2003 and I I note that Claire O'Reilly, in her review below, warns that their 2003 guide contains "many" errors. I'm not sure which of the two she is referring to but it is likely that the errors are found in both, so the Rose Key is probably the best choice overall. Enjoy.


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