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Bob Knapton "Bob" (West Yorkshire)

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Head Case Designs Penguin Family On Ice Wildlife Protective Snap-on Hard Back Case Cover for Apple iPad mini with Retina Display iPad mini 3
Head Case Designs Penguin Family On Ice Wildlife Protective Snap-on Hard Back Case Cover for Apple iPad mini with Retina Display iPad mini 3
Offered by eCell
Price: £7.45

5.0 out of 5 stars Nice quality, great fit, 29 Jan. 2015
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This is a good quality snap-fit case that is an excellent fit for my son's ipad mini with retina screen. The case looks great on, although if you were to be hyper-critical you could say that the image is a little grainy. All ports, camera lenses etc are accessible with the case on.


Special Forces
Special Forces
Dvd
Price: £3.49

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A traditional war-film, but French, 9 Jan. 2015
After Diane Kruger's journalist is kidnapped in the Tribal Areas of Pakistan a crack team of French commandos is dispatched to the rescue.

It's hard to describe this film any more fully without giving away any key plot points, but I think that fans of 1950's and 1960's Hollywood war films will enjoy this. There's a good dose of the Magnificent Seven thrown in there too.

Plus points are the scenery and photography, which are both absolutely stunning, and the performances which are as good, or better, than could be expected given the nature of the material. The final third of the film is particularly strong. Downsides are the one-dimensional villain, some unrealistic and bloodless action sequences and some clunky moralising.

Largely in well-subtitled French with some English dialogue.


The Assault
The Assault
Dvd
Price: £6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good quality drama with some limitations, 9 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: The Assault (Amazon Instant Video)
In the 1990's Algerian militants hijacked an Air France flight on the runway in Algiers. For a time the local authorities wouldn't allow the flight to leave, but under French pressure they eventually allowed the aircraft to transit to Marseilles where GIGN police commandos assaulted the aircraft. This film is the true(-ish) story of the hijacking and its eventual resolution.

There are three main strands to the story, the first concerns the drama on the aircraft itself, the second the efforts of politicians and civil-servants in Paris to manage the situation and the third concerns the struggle of one GIGN operator and his family to come to terms with the constant pressure and uncertainty of the job. All of these are well handled, but the Paris section is the weakest of the three and has a scene that stretched my suspension of disbelief to breaking point. The drama is compelling, the performances are excellent and the action scenes suitably exciting. That said, it's not a full-on Hollywood actioner, so don't be expecting another Die Hard. It's far closer in tone to the Scandi crime dramas that have been so popular on TV in the UK recently.

My main reservation was the visual tone of the film, the washed-out, desaturated colour palette is initially distracting but eventually became plain irritating.

The version that I watched was subtitled, which I prefer to the dubbed option whenever possible. The subtitling seemed good but even my limited French picked up some unlikely translations.


Swordfish 'Ikon' Desktop Manual Pencil Sharpener 8mm ref 40100
Swordfish 'Ikon' Desktop Manual Pencil Sharpener 8mm ref 40100
Price: £9.21

5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic sharpening performance, solid design, 9 Jan. 2015
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This is the second Swordfish sharpener we've bought, the first is a Pointi which is so popular in our house that it can never be found - one of the children has always squirrelled it away somewhere.

The Ikon offers the same excellent sharpening performance as the Pointi but is a much more sturdy device with thicker plastic mouldings and some parts, most notably the winding handle, replaced with metal equivalents. Operation is just as simple: pull out the face plate, insert the pencil and wind the handle until the sharpening stops. The points are consistently perfect, regardless of the quality or type of the pencil being sharpened.

Like the Pointi, the Ikon comes with a desk clamp that we haven't needed to use. It works just fine when stabilised with one hand and turned with the other.

Given the choice between a Pointi and an Ikon I'd choose the Ikon every time - sharpening is no better, but it seems like a much more solid unit and I have none of the reservations over durability that I have with the Pointi, plus it's only a couple of pounds more expensive. On the other hand it's a much more 'industrial' design, and won't look as pretty on your desk. You can't go wrong with either of them, though, they're both a world ahead of traditional sharpeners.

And just to be clear, 8mm is the standard pencil size.


Gamewright Forbidden Desert Game
Gamewright Forbidden Desert Game
Price: £18.39

5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic development of Forbidden Island and a great game in its own right, 6 Jan. 2015
We loved Forbidden Island, played it a lot, and mastered it. Forbidden Desert refines the concepts and raises the difficulty level considerably.

The set itself is the same high quality of manufacture as Forbidden Island, with beautifully printed cardboard and high quality moulded plastic game pieces. The artwork has a similar steam punk feel to the earlier game but perhaps lacks the visual variety as the desert setting offers less scope for diversity.

The mechanics of the game are also similar to the earlier set, but there are more ways for the game to end. There are 6 character types with different skills which are assigned randomly to the players who must work as a team to find and retrieve four components to assemble the flying machine and escape from the desert. However, there are hazards, the desert is gradually rising and covering the game board, which is constantly moving in response to cards which must be drawn at the end of each turn. In addition each player has a finite amount of water that may also be reduced at the end of the turn.

So, the players must explore the board; keep the tiles clear of sand; find the pieces; search for, extract and share water; hide from the sun and, eventually, escape the desert. Or die. And there's one of the two drawbacks. It's really easy to die even at the lowest level of difficulty for and even for competent players of Forbidden Island. After a few failures we found our collective enthusiasm beginning to ebb.

The second drawback may not effect you, but we've found that enthusiastic, older players of board games (my children's grandparents and great aunts and uncles) just can't get their heads around the co-operative nature of these games, which means that some of our most reliable gaming partners are excluded.

Overall, though, a great game that expands on and refines the concepts of the original.


Agincourt: My Family, the Battle and the Fight for France
Agincourt: My Family, the Battle and the Fight for France
Price: £8.49

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing, 6 Jan. 2015
Being interested in military history and a moderate fan of Ranulph Fiennes I had relatively high hopes for this surprise Christmas gift but I was thoroughly disappointed.

The style is, frankly, terrible with many repetitions, sometimes substantial parts of whole paragraphs are reproduced almost verbatim within half a page. The author's note states that he has chosen to print the names of his ancestors in italics to avoid repeating the phrase 'my ancestor' and yet the book is full of these words or close equivalents, as if the reader might lack the intelligence to guess that a Fiennes is an ancestor of the author. Furthermore the text is padded with large extracts from Shakespeare, which are of limited relevance.

To compound this, the work is full of inaccuracies and suspect statements - long bows weren't 7 feet long, for example - and there is very little detail on the battle itself.

On the plus side, the fact that Fiennes' ancestry is so long, detailed, illustrious and (presumably) well-documented is interesting in itself and there is a small article on the arming of an English knight in the appendix which is quite engaging.

Overall though, if you're interested in Agincourt or Henry V try Juliet Barker, or even Bernard Cornwell's fictionalised account; if you're interested in Fiennes try any of his exploration books.


Shoot to Kill: From 2 Para to the SAS
Shoot to Kill: From 2 Para to the SAS
Price: £3.48

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A routine military memoir that barely gets off the starting blocks, 22 Dec. 2014
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I've read and enjoyed Michael Asher's books before, particularly 'The Real Bravo Two Zero' which does a good job of presenting an alternative view of the famously botched Gulf War mission so I was disappointed that this is such a routine memoir.

Asher is clearly an impressive individual whose accomplishments speak for themselves and I've no doubt that this is a rigorously honest and frank account of his times as a Paratrooper, SAS man and RUC officer. The problem is that nothing very much happened, or at least nothing much that he's prepared to tell us about. As far as I can recall he never fired a shot in anger and so we're left with the stories of his parachute training, SAS selection and routine patrol work in Northern Ireland. All of which have been extensively covered in other peoples' books.

On the plus side, Asher is intelligent and articulate and prepared to write without glamorising the life. On the other hand, the shaggy dog tales of less thoughtful writers are often more entertaining.


Draper 37494 350 mm Hardpoint Pruning Saw
Draper 37494 350 mm Hardpoint Pruning Saw
Price: £7.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific value, very effective, 22 Dec. 2014
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Excellent value saw that makes short work of thick branches and roots. It's got a thin, whippy blade that you have to take care with as it will easily flex on the push stroke and the handle isn't the most ergonomic but the low price offsets those shortcomings. I found no problems with sawing through laurel trunks and branches which were at least 6-inches thick.


Big Maria
Big Maria
Price: £3.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vile, disgusting and very, very funny, 22 Dec. 2014
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This review is from: Big Maria (Kindle Edition)
Shaw takes three characters, already three-time losers straight from a Tom Waites lyric, gives them tribulations that would break a saint, grinds them down a little more and then releases them on a quest for riches. The guys live in a world that's both literally and metaphorically on the edge of the desert, populated almost entirely by people similarly close to the edge, and for a time it's unclear whether they're going to be able to pull themselves back. The situations at the start are so harsh that it seems possible that the characters will destroy themselves through pure ill judgement and bad luck, however, there comes a point where they gain a purpose and from then on it's an easier ride.

It's true that this has possibly the most revolting opening of any novel, which finds our lead protagonist literally caught with his pants down. It's also true that the plot is as clunky as a wooden leg, and if you haven't figured out the end once you've read the first third then you really haven't been paying attention, but that same plot tumbles rapidly and entertainingly along with the insane internal logic of a Carl Hiassen novel. The dialogue is crisp, foul and funny - laugh out loud funny on a number of occasions. The violence is unflinching and not for the faint hearted.

If you like the caper novels of Elmore Leonard, and can stomach major league foulness and Tarantino-esque levels of violence, take a hike to the Big Maria. You might enjoy it.


Wyatt Earp: The Life Behind the Legend (History)
Wyatt Earp: The Life Behind the Legend (History)
by Casey Tefertiller
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.48

5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, 25 Nov. 2014
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For anybody who grew up as I did, watching westerns on TV, Wyatt Earp has a mythical reputation as the quintessential lawman - a man of few words who let his guns do the talking. The real Wyatt Earp, of course, was far more complex and this fascinating book details his life from his origins in the East to his eventual death in poverty in California, well into the 20th century. In his lifetime he was a controversial figure, far better known for his unfortunate involvement in a boxing scandal than his brief career as a law enforcer but his reputation was enhanced after his death by a successful, if largely fictionalised, autobiography and then built upon by successive movies and TV series.

The book itself is a lively account that relies on contemporary letters, court records and newspaper accounts for the most part, with some direct quotes from people who knew him later in life, including John Wayne, who claimed to have based his career on Earp. The style is direct and journalistic and the author makes a successful attempt at clarifying the events around the famous gunfight. No doubt there are still partisans for either side who will find this either a character assassination of a great man or a justification of a murderous cheat but it seems to me to be a balanced account of a life lived on the very edges of civilisation by a man who sought out risk throughout his life.


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