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travelmike "travelmike" (Isle of Man)

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The Castles and Forts of the Isle of Man [DVD]
The Castles and Forts of the Isle of Man [DVD]

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History Comes To Life - Enyoyable and Informative, 19 May 2011
After the outstanding Isle of Man from the Air [DVD], Charles Guard had a lot to live up to in producing this, his latest DVD about the Isle of Man.

I had worried that the subject-matter might be too 'dry' for my liking, but I need not have worried. I thoroughly enjoyed watching this DVD. As always, with a Charles Guard film, the production standards are high, the narrative is well-researched, and the (on-location) filming and presentation is excellent, often witty and always interesting. In effect, this DVD is history come to life - a social and political history of the Isle of Man (from the Stone Age to modern times) filmed on-location throughout, and told through the medium of original and beautiful film footage of the many (nearly 40) forts, castles and historic sites on this island - from the stunning Castle Rushen in Castletown, and its counterpart in Peel, to the sites of the ancient stone age hill forts - and even the now-forgotten Civil War fortress (Ballachurry) in the north of the island. Once again, Charles Guard (a local historian and film-maker) is the narrator and guide - and the commentary is very well-researched, presented on-location throughout, sometimes with stunning computer graphics recreations of the ancient sites, which show how they must have looked in their heyday. Highlights include the sad story of the last man executed on the Isle of Man (at Castle Rushen) nearly 140 years ago; and the less-than-savoury story of the island's role in the English Civil War, culminating in the - completely unfair and vindictive - execution of William Christian (the first Manx martyr). What else? There are many highlights - not least the unfortunate demolition of one of the chimneys of Peel power station after the firing of one of the cannons from Peel castle during filming!

Good though this DVD is , and it is very good, it does not, in my view, have the more general interest of Charles Guard's earlier - and also five-star - Isle of Man from the Air [DVD] . Also, I regret that - for all the special effects and care in producing this DVD - the producers had not thought to include an easy-to-use location-finder-index to the sites shown - so that first-time visitors to the island could easily track down the whereabouts of the sites shown, especially the lesser-known hill fort sites. (I considered deducting a star on the rating for this omission, but this seems too harsh). So, my verdict, excellent though this DVD is, if you are looking to buy just one DVD about the Isle of Man, especially for a more general interest introduction to the island, or as a first-time visitor, you cannot go wrong with Charles Guard's earlier DVD, the outstanding Isle of Man from the Air [DVD]. I suggest you check out the other reviews on Amazon (including mine) about that title too.

That said, despite its more specialist focus, this DVD really is very good, I very much enjoyed watching it, well-worth repeat viewings! (And, by the way, the background music - is excellent, original, very suitable complement to the film footage. Who is the composer, I wonder?)

Footnote: I note that Amazon show that this DVD (which is region-free) is 'currently unavailable' But - at time of writing - this DVD (released at end-2010) is widely available at booksellers, newsagents and museums throughout the Isle of Man, so should not be at all difficult to track down.

Kenwood SB056 Smoothie 2GO Black
Kenwood SB056 Smoothie 2GO Black
Price: 19.99

185 of 190 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-have for the healthy kitchen, 6 Feb 2010
I believe the smoothie maker really is a must-have, especially for all those looking for a cheap, quick, and (most importantly) a delicious way to bring more fresh fruit and veg into their daily diet.

Apart from the colour (black), this is essentially the same model as the silver-coloured Kenwood Smoothie To Go SB055 Smoothie Maker, which I originally bought over two years ago now, and which is still going strong. (And used at least four or five times a week on average over that period, that's my first and only smoothie maker). So I suggest you check out the other reviews (including mine) on Amazon about that model too.

Note for first-time users: Don't be conned into buying any smoothie recipe books; it's like telling you how to boil an egg! I say: The recipe for any smoothie is simplicity itself: Half a dozen ice cubes (essential); some tap water (or other liquid) for lubrication (also essential); various fruits of your choosing, veg, nuts, fresh yoghurt - and you're away! Be original: Make up your own recipes as you go along, So now you have no excuse for walking past the fresh fruit and veg counter next time you're in your local supermarket. Equally good with frozen ingredients, even frozen spinach works (although better tasting with fresh soft fruits, easier on rotor blades too, see second update below).

Please note that the motor in this smoothie maker, based on my experience with the silver-coloured model, is robust and reliable, but common-sense tells you it is not designed to run like a car engine. I've used my smoothie maker regularly for almost two years now, it still runs as good as new: but I never keep the motor running for more than ten or fifteen seconds at a time. It's simply not necessary - indeed, I usually find less than 10 seconds is more than enough time to do the business. (And I believe this also keeps the motor in good health).

Highly recommended. The smoothie maker is a must-have, especially for those looking for a cheap, quick, and delicious way to bring more fresh fruit and veg into their daily diet. Don't miss out!

Update: July 5th 2010 - Today, I had my first problem after over two years' regular use with this smoothie maker (silver model). Motor whirred round, made a lot of noise, but failed to turn mixture and make smoothie! Cause - Overloaded with fruit, I had not properly sliced the mango/apple chunks, and I had perhaps also been too sparing with the tap water for lubrication. Remedy: Switched off motor - immediately - when this happened. Simply took out some of excess load (into the second beaker) and also cut up/sliced up the apple/mango more/added some more water. And tried again. Voila! Problem solved. Even regular users of this product can sometimes misjudge and overload the beaker in this way - but the problem is easily remedied - just remember to switch off and reduce the load - and not to blame the smoothie maker! And of course never keep the motor running when the mixture is clearly not turning, you must reduce load and/or add more liquid.

Further update: July 28th, 2010 - Today, another problem! This time, smoothie maker (silver model) made horrible loud screeching noise, and turned mixture much too slowly. Cause - Rotor blades damaged. The rotor blades are in the lid unit, these are delicately balanced, and they can be damaged by anything too hard, and once this happens, difficult to repair, even though they still look okay, they must remain in perfect balance. This was my mistake (again)- a small, very hard piece of fruit included in the smoothie mixture, should have been removed. The motor in the main unit still works fine - and as I also have a spare Smoothie 2Go SB055 - previously unused - I found that merely replacing the rotor blade unit in the lid solved the problem. I decided to phone Kenwood to buy a spare rotor blade unit, but they refuse to sell this as a separate item, so if you don't have a spare, you must buy a complete new smoothie maker! (The customer rep told me that they can't sell the rotor blade unit as a spare because it is now 'obsolete'. But as I pointed out, it is not obsolete at all, as Kenwood continue to sell this item whenever they sell a complete Smoothie2Go unit, indeed it is an essential component, of both the SB055 and SB056 models. I said to the Kenwood rep that I wanted to complain about this poor service, and was referred to their website, but could not find anywhere there to record this complaint).

Anyway, in summary, my smoothie maker (silver model) continues to work just as well as ever, despite this problem, albeit I had to cannibalise my spare for a new rotor blade unit, which Kenwood refuses to sell as a separate spare item, preferring to inform customers that it is now 'obsolete', so they must buy a complete new smoothie maker. (What would you think if you had to buy a new car, whenever the fan belt goes, because the manufacturer refused to sell the fan belt as a separate item, telling you it is now 'obsolete'?) I still think five stars for the smoothie maker, but now I deduct one star for poor service from Kenwood.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 11, 2014 9:26 AM BST

From Belly Fat to Belly Flat: The Medically Proven Diet to Reshape Your Body
From Belly Fat to Belly Flat: The Medically Proven Diet to Reshape Your Body
by Dr C W Randolph
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.24

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much more than just another diet book!, 16 May 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This recently published book is really something original, a well-written book (by an American medical doctor too, a husband and wife team), easy to read, and to-the-point. Despite the title, I believe that this book is for just about everyone who cares about maintaining good health, even especially those already in good shape would benefit from reading it. In my opinion, the book's title somewhat understates its message: It is not just about losing belly fat (whether or not you have this in mind), but also about avoiding and/or correcting an extensive - and all too common - range of other health problems, many of which are rather more serious or distressing than extra pounds round the waist (see the long list of these on page 15 of chapter two of this book).

Dr Randolph's main point in this book is that restoring - and maintaining - a good healthy body - and shape - is not about following some fixed diet and counting calories every day, as many other foodie/diet books would have you believe. (Indeed, calories barely get a mention in this book!) Rather, it's all about making those food choices that allow the body to restore its own natural balance. This is well-explained by many examples, and these should strike a chord with most readers. In particular, the section on the non-negotiable foodstuffs (beginning of chapter three) justifies the cost of the book in itself, in my opinion.

Highly recommended - and not at all an expensive buy (on Amazon). I also suggest that you could easily make the dietary changes suggested in this book by adding a smoothie maker to your kitchen accessories - don't laugh at the idea, check out the other reviews (including mine) on Amazon about these, something like the Kenwood SB056 Smoothie 2GO Black] ]Kenwood Smoothie Maker or similar, would do just fine!

{Footnote: Make sure you buy this - the May 2009 edition - as you see in the picture. There is - I see - an earlier (July 2008) edition of this book, which has a different sub-title and cover. This will not be a problem if you order direct from Amazon}.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 6, 2009 12:15 PM BST

Planet Earth : Complete BBC Series (5 Disc Box Set) [2006] [DVD]
Planet Earth : Complete BBC Series (5 Disc Box Set) [2006] [DVD]
Dvd ~ David Attenborough
Price: 8.75

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better even than the blu-ray version!, 24 May 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Top quality! This is five-star in every way - and I've little to add to the other five-star reviews of this excellent series. In my view, this is right up there with the best of the best.

I would also point out that disc 5 of this box set, entitled 'Planet Earth - The Future' contains three excellent documentaries (namely, 'Saving Species', 'Into The Wilderness' and 'Living Together') that would justify the cost of this box set by themselves. Yet the blu-ray version of this series (which I also bought) Planet Earth: Complete BBC Series [Blu-ray] does not include these excellent documentaries - the blu-ray version instead replaces these with two somewhat middling documentaries (entitled 'Desert Lions' and 'Snow Leopards').

So, in my opinion, this standard DVD version of 'Planet Earth' is better quality even than the blu-ray version. Not to say considerably cheaper price-wise (on Amazon)!

As regards the viewing comparison between the standard DVD version of 'Planet Earth' and the blu-ray version of the series, well, I watched both, and both are outstanding. So there is really no reason to pay more for blu-ray on that evidence.

Indeed, I now think, on that evidence, that those with HD TV would be better off buying a DVD upscaler/player, which is much cheaper than a blu-ray DVD player. Amazon sell a selection of these; something like the Philips DVP5990/05 - HDMI 1080p DivX Ultra DVD Player, or similar, would likely do just fine.

A final point: Those of you who are looking for wildlife documentaries set somewhere in the British Isles could also check out the excellent 'Wild Mann' DVD (2005) by Steven Ianson. This title is, however, sometimes difficult to track down.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 31, 2009 5:30 PM BST

Planet Earth: Complete BBC Series [Blu-ray]
Planet Earth: Complete BBC Series [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ David Attenborough
Offered by themediamerchants
Price: 17.74

61 of 118 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Blu-ray customers are being short-changed., 24 May 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A warning: It seems that the BBC has been cheese-paring and, as a result, the disc 5 extra included with the blu-ray version of this excellent series, entitled 'Natural World', is not at all the same as the disc 5 extra included with the standard DVD version of the series. Let me explain: Disc 5 of the blu-ray version, entitled 'Natural World', contains two separate documentaries; one entitled 'Desert Lions', and the second entitled 'Snow Leopards'. These two middling documentaries, also narrated by David Attenborough, although certainly watchable, do seem rather like an add-on, almost to fill space. In my opinion, they fall well short of the outstanding viewing quality of the main series, as shown on the first four discs in this five-disc box set.

However, the disc 5 extra included with the standard DVD version of 'Planet Earth' is entitled 'The Future', and this contains three excellent documentaries. These three documentaries (namely; ' Saving Species'; 'Into The Wilderness' and 'Living Together') amount to one complete whole: namely, a cry for action to save the future, our future. This is about global warming, habitat destruction, poaching, pollution, global overpopulation - all the threats to those magnificent animals and habitats - and ultimately ourselves - that we have just seen in the main series. The use of film footage from the main series (and some new film clips) - supported by a superb commentary both from the film-makers themselves and experts, including David Attenborough and others - carries a real impact. To give one example, the polar bear and global warming. Blu-ray customers never get to see the full picture about how this magnificent animal faces an increasing struggle to survive as global warming destroys its habitat - because this disc 5 gem is included as part of 'The Future' documentaries on the disc 5 extra with the standard DVD boxset, but not with the disc 5 extra of the blu-ray DVD boxset. Yet, in my opinion, these 'The Future' documentaries are essential viewing. So it really is inexcusable that they have been excluded from the disc 5 extra included with the blu-ray version of the 'Planet Earth' series.

The BBC are completely out of order. Why did they do this? They have no excuse; there surely would have been plenty of room on a blu-ray disc to have included these documentaries - as well as the two films about desert lions and snow leopards. Buyers of the blu-ray version are being short-changed by this omission.

My advice: Buy the standard DVD version of this outstanding series Planet Earth : Complete BBC Series (5 Disc Box Set) [2006] [DVD]. You will then get the complete series - with the addition of the three excellent 'The Future' documentaries on disc 5, which are excluded from the blu-ray version. And furthermore, as I found, the viewing quality of the standard DVD version (which. like the blu-ray version, also includes 5.1 surround sound) will be outstanding on a standard DVD player. (And those with a HD TV could always consider buying a cheap multi-region DVD upscaler like the Philips DVP5990/05 - HDMI 1080p DivX Ultra DVD Player, or similar, rather than a blu-ray player).
Comment Comments (14) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 11, 2010 12:28 PM GMT

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77 of 80 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for the health-conscious kitchen - and the lazy cook, 22 May 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Don't hesitate! This little beauty is a must in any health-conscious kitchen. Compact size, robust, easy to use. very easy to clean too.

If, like me, you're new to the whole idea of making and drinking smoothies, then this is the best way to start. Prepare to be converted to the smoothies craze! It's a very healthy - and tasteful - way to get your daily five portions of fresh wholesome fruit and vegetables - not to mention drinks, nuts, yoghurts, and the rest. I now find that I can include many items in my daily diet that I would not even have previously considered - even a few small pieces of celery or frozen spinach go down just find when they're part of a smoothie including delicious fruits and fresh yoghurt! And, like me, you can make up your own recipes as you go along, endless possibilities.
Also, great for those on a diet to eat more fruit and vegetables in a delicious, convenient way. And for those on a budget, a good way to cut out the expensive cravings for junk food, and to reduce the groceries bill.

Any downsides? Well, yes, it is loud when it's operating - but it only needs to be switched on for a maximum 10 seconds or so to do the business - so that's no real problem. (Completely unnecessary to keep the motor running for longer than this, and I believe this will also keep the motor in good health).
Also, 0.5 litre capacity is just fine for one or two people, but those with a larger family may consider this to be rather small for their needs. (Note: two jugs of 0.5 litre capacity each are provided, so it's easy for your other half to make a second smoothie).

Also, an essential starter ingredient in any smoothie has to be five or six ice cubes (with some tap water, or other liquid) - so make sure your kitchen has a fridge compartment that can make ice cubes before you buy this!
(And you will also need a decent ice cube tray, I mean one that lets you - easily - press out the newly frozen ice cubes from its base, some don't do this so well. I bought mine - a cheap plastic one that does this just fine - for a few quid at my local hardware store).

Highly recommended. Those working outdoors or in offices during the day may also consider keeping their morning smoothies cool at work by purchasing something like the Thermos Work Series Stainless Steel Flask Blue 1.2L or similar - although this is rather expensive now, costs more than the smoothie maker!

Update - Two Years Later - 22 May 2010

Now exactly two years on from my original review as I write this, and no problems to report, as yet. I have used my smoothie maker about four or five times a week on average for over 2 years now, and it's still going strong. I see no reason why it should not continue to give me many more years of usage, if looked after, and, in my opinion, it's more than paid for itself with the usage already given, I am very happy with it!

Further update - 28 July 2010. Well, today, after over two years regular usage, I had my first main problem! Loud, horrible screeching noise, and rotor blades turning much too slowly. Cause - damaged rotor blades in the lid unit (My mistake for including something too hard in the mixture). To solve this problem, I had to cannibalise a replacement rotor blade unit from my - hitherto unused - spare Smoothie2Go - Kenwood would not sell me a replacement rotor blade unit. For further details about this issue, see also my review of the Kenwood Smoothie 2GO SB056 (Black) which is essentially exactly the same model as this smoothie maker, but in black colour.

Further update - 28 August 2011. Still going strong! And no further problems to report. Over 3 years regular usage now...

One extra tip:

1. Don't waste your money buying smoothie recipe books - these are unnecessary, it's the easiest thing in the world to make a smoothie. I say: Experiment, make up your own recipes as you go along, it really is easy. However, if you are looking for some new healthy-eating ideas for your smoothie maker, and want an easy and quick alternative to the fixed recipe ideas in most foodie/diet books, then check out the recently published From Belly Fat to Belly Flat: The Medically Proven Diet to Reshape Your Body by Dr C W Randolph. An easy, informative read, with I think good advice from the doctor on healthy eating for everyone, I believe even those in good shape would benefit from reading this book. Especially chapter three's non-negotiable food list - is worth checking out. And, of course, it's much easier - and quicker - to add these foods items onto your weekly shopping list when you have a smoothie maker in your kitchen!

I believe that the smoothie maker is a must-have - a much more useful accessory to have in the kitchen than a toaster, a slow cooker, or a breadmaker. Don't miss out!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 4, 2011 11:52 PM BST

The Shore: Isle Of Man [DVD]
The Shore: Isle Of Man [DVD]
Price: 19.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Opportunity missed., 8 May 2008
This review is from: The Shore: Isle Of Man [DVD] (DVD)
This is something of a mixed bag. Good in parts, but other parts do seem over-long. Better editing before release would have improved this DVD, which, overall, is disappointing, since the source material promised more. Anyway, there are, in my opinion, much better - and more entertaining - DVD's about the Isle Of Man. If you like wildlife films, especially the David Attenborough type films, then check out the excellent (but sometimes difficult-to-find) 'Wild Mann' DVD (2005) by Steven Ianson. I also highly recommend the Isle Of Man From The Air [DVD], which is by far the best general introduction to the island.

Ghosts & Legends Of The Isle Of Man [DVD]
Ghosts & Legends Of The Isle Of Man [DVD]
Dvd ~ Richard Felix
Offered by zoverstocks
Price: 7.97

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not up to the mark, 8 May 2008
Sorry, in my opinion, this is not worth your money or time. Comes across as a cheesy, low-budget production, and is, frankly, sometimes almost embarrassing to watch; once was enough for me. However, I suggest that you also check out the outstanding Isle Of Man From The Air [DVD] title on DVD. That has everything this title lacks: high production values; excellent, original photography, and a superb commentary (with good DVD extras too).
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 18, 2012 7:39 PM BST

Isle Of Man From The Air [DVD]
Isle Of Man From The Air [DVD]
Offered by Not2day Media
Price: 9.95

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much more than the title...., 17 Oct 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Travel DVDs can sometimes disappoint, but this really is excellent. No cheesy holiday photos here! The photography throughout is original, outstanding; the commentary (from Charles Guard, a local historian and film-maker) is also superb, very well-researched and interesting. Despite the title, this DVD contains much more than stunning aerial film footage of the Isle of Man; it is also an excellent introduction to the history, nature and culture of the island. Production values are high throughout (excellent background music too) - and the producers have not skimped on DVD extras either - the featured extras include 'Follow The Sulby River' (the island's longest river), which is wonderfully done, as is 'Fly The Coast'.
Watching this DVD is almost like you have your own private tour, accompanied by an enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide to the island. The DVD will also appeal to all who love beautiful cinematography. Easily the best general introduction to the island on DVD; outstanding in every way. Five stars are well deserved.

Footnote (20th May, 2011): Looking for a more specialist focus on the history of the island? If so, check out Charles Guard's latest DVD: 'The Castles And Forts Of The Isle Of Man', and my Amazon review of this. This latest DVD title from Charles Guard is also very good, but, unlike the 'Isle Of Man From The Air' DVD, is probably rather too specialist in focus to serve as a holiday souvenir for a first-time visitor, or as a comprehensive and general introduction for someone new to the island.

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