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Crookedmouth ":-/" (Somewhere in the Jurassic...)
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A Close Run Thing: (Matthew Hervey Book 1)
A Close Run Thing: (Matthew Hervey Book 1)
Price: 4.31

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too much Sense and Sensibility, not enough Master and Commander, 1 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Duke of Wellington described the battle of Waterloo as "the nearest-run thing you ever saw in your life". "A Close Run Thing" is Alan Mallinson's novel about Matthew Hervey, a Cornet in the 6th Light Dragoons and his part in the battle. It was Mallinson's debut and the first in a series recounting Hervey's adventures.

I'm very much in two minds about this novel. Mallinson appears to be (as am I) a fan of Patrick O'Brian and took a very big leaf from the great man's books; presenting a piece of faithful historical military fiction writen in the style of the period. As a consequence, Close Run Thing reads as if it were written by one of Jane Austen's contemporaries. Now, I have never read more than a few lines of Austen or any other author of that period, so I take my cue from O'Brian's own style and from the assertions of other better-read reviewers. In practise this means a slightly archaic form of language and a wordy, somewhat florid prose.

Sadly, Mallinson is (or was - I've not got around to his later works) no O'Brian. The Austenesque style is somewhat overdone in the early part of the book, making the reading of it a little tiresome after a while. This moderates considerably as the story progresses and it becomes much more readable, although the shift in style is a bit of a black mark, regardless of its beneficial effect.

The plot too is rather protracted. Fair enough, I suspect that Mallinson wanted to add some historical depth to the story and consequently we follow Hervey from the closing stages of The Peninsular War, via a sojourn amongst English society and an Irish police-action to (at great length) Napoleon's Hundred Days. It is a shame though that this tour de force is so disjointed: there is little in the way of a thread of continuity between the sections and each seems to be rendered almost irrelevant by its successor.

Finally, when we do arrive on the battlefield of Waterloo, the real difference between Mallinson and O'Brien (or Cornwell, or Forester) shows. He (at this stage in his career, at least) is no writer of adventure. Whereas Jack Aubrey or Richard Sharpe would have been laying about with a sabre, parting limb from torso and up to the top of their Hessian boots in blood, guts and mud, Cornet Hervey trots about (in a manly way) from General to General, delivering the Allies from ruin by dint of his mastery of the French and German languages, rather than his skills as a horseman or swordsman. The battle scenes are described well enough, but from afar (you would be forgiven for thinking that The Battle of Quatre Bras never happened) and on the few occasions that Hervey does enter the fray, the description of the fighting is bland, abstracted and colourless. Very genteel, as Jack Aubrey would say, but it ain't fighting.

Perhaps I'm being unfair - it's a decent enough read, written well and I'm pretty sure I'll give the next in the series a go. But if you want a good Waterloo War Story, look no further than Sharpe's Waterloo. If you want Pride, Prejudice and Great Murder, try Master and Commander.


Revell Easy Kit 06690 Model Toy Star Wars X-Wing Starfighter
Revell Easy Kit 06690 Model Toy Star Wars X-Wing Starfighter
Price: 30.26

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun for the inexperienced model builder or for a Star Wars enthusiast, 23 Mar 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is NOT a toy, it is a plastic model kit. That said, Revell's Easykit models are designed to be constructable without recourse to glue or paint. That means it is suitable for the younger, less experienced modeller, but it DOES need to be built and, as you can see from the photos I've uploaded, the kit has a LOT of parts. You don't even need any tools, although it would be wise to have to hand a pair of sprue cutters to remove the parts from the sprues and a craft knife to tidy them up afterwards . I also had to hand a small flat bladed screwdriver - that I use as a spudger - to separate parts that I had put together incorrectly...

...because you will need to read and follow the instructions more carefully than I did. This isn't a simple build. Nevertheless, it took me a happy hour or so to complete and the results are impressive in many ways. At about 42cm long , it's a big old model. Hefty too. It's nicely painted in the style of George Lucas' film X-wings and it is even weathered to make it look a little more realistic. The wings move, R2D2 can be removed and the cockpit canopy can even be opened. You can build it with the landing gear up or down and if you choose the former, there's a funky little stand for it to sit on.

While the kit officially requires no glue, there are a few parts that may need to be glued because the dry fit isn't quite good enough. I find that the laser cannon spikes have a tendency to fall off and the exhaust pipes aren't as secure as they could be. For this purpose, some "superglue" would be quite acceptable.

All in all, this is a great kit. Suitable as a simple model to build, it'll look fun hung from the ceiling amongst your Spitfires and F16s. It is also a good collectors piece and there a re a few more in the series. I made the point at the beginning that it isn't a toy. That may be a little unfair because, once it's built, you can satisfy your inner child by rushing around the living room with this in your hands making whooshing noises and going "pyew pyew pyew The force is strong in this one". I would say that the model is very big and heavy and a little bit fragile (unless you used some glue) so it's best played with in this way by a careful adult rather than a small child.

Lots of photos uploaded .
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 25, 2014 9:30 AM GMT


Baxters Chunky Smoked Bacon & 3 Bean Soup 400g x 12
Baxters Chunky Smoked Bacon & 3 Bean Soup 400g x 12
Offered by ZigZag trading ltd
Price: 23.98

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beans beans good for your heart..., 21 Mar 2014
A nice enough, and very hearty lunch-meal. It's heavy on the beans, as you might expect, but I haven't detected much that could be mistaken as bacon yet. Well, there were three fragments of something a little chewier that might have been meat, but I can't be sure. Don't get your hopes up.


(U type Bicycle Clip)360-Degree Rotating Car Clip Bicycle Clip Frame Lighthouse Flashlight Clip
(U type Bicycle Clip)360-Degree Rotating Car Clip Bicycle Clip Frame Lighthouse Flashlight Clip
Offered by HappyGo
Price: 8.69

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good at what it does, but by golly it's pricey for what it is, 17 Mar 2014
My first impression was "bl00dy hell! It's expensive!" You can buy decent LED bike lights - the light AND the fixture - for this price.

I ought to point out that I got this free from OXA for a review, but nevertheless, the price looks horribly steep to me. Were it to come WITH the torch that it fits (which also comes with a charger and battery) then I wouldn't complain in the least,

Actually, to be honest, that was the second thing that came to mind. The first was that this looks a little like a torture instrument or something you use to construct scaffolding. It's not a quick release fitting, altough the torch itself pops in and out easily enough, so I suppose it doesn't need to be QR. It fits robustly to your bike handlebars but is flexible enough that you can swivel and tilt it easily to point your torch anywhere.

It's a good enough bracket, if somewhat agricultural, but that you need to buy the light seperately seems like poor value to me, hence the low rating.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 18, 2014 8:47 AM GMT


OXA Cree LED Flashlight with 5 models (CE/FCC/ROHS Approved) (220 lumens XPE)
OXA Cree LED Flashlight with 5 models (CE/FCC/ROHS Approved) (220 lumens XPE)
Offered by buyinsummer
Price: 8.58

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flash!, 14 Mar 2014
A spiffing little torch indeed. Bright as a 12 year-old Oxbridge applicant and robustly designed and fabricated. The five modes, accessed by gently dabbing the big green button on the back are: bright, medium, dim, strobe and SOS. Small enough to pop in your pocket but bright enough to illuminate most of Southern England.

I have a couple of reservations, the first being that I have had a couple of Chinese LED torches for review and one turned up it's toes for no obvious reason after a couple of weeks of light use. And it was an expensive torch too. The other issue is the non-standard battery. Perhaps the 18650 is standard issue in Hong Kong or China, but in the UK you have to buy it over the internet and it takes ages to arrive. At least THIS torch came with one supplied (plus a charger).

OXA also kindly sent me a bracket so that I could fit the torch onto my bike (not supplied as standard, but here it is), so perhaps you can guess what I'm going to do with it next? The torches build quality will be put to the test on my MBT, I can tell you. I shall report back.

OXA supplied the torch and bike bracket free for review
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 17, 2014 10:15 AM GMT


Zulu (2 Disc Special Edition) [1964] [DVD]
Zulu (2 Disc Special Edition) [1964] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Stanley Baker
Offered by The Happy Zombie
Price: 7.00

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Damned hot work!, 3 Mar 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
In 1879 a small contingent of 140 British redcoats held a Natal mission station against a determined attack by nearly 4000 Zulu warriors. They won the day and, in the process, received 11 Victoria Crosses.

Zulu was released in 1964, directed by Cy Endfield and produced by the film's leading man, Stanley Baker. In the intervening 50 years it has come to be regarded as a classic war movie and a bit of a lad-flick, to be enjoyed with one's mates and a six pack of beer on any semi-special occasion. The depiction, by Michael Caine, of the stiff-upper-lipped Lt Bromhead is one of it's most memorable moments. It is hard to believe that the film was Caine's big-screen debut (well, sort of) and that he originally read for the part of wide-boy Pte Hook. However, if you're looking for classic performances, it's hard to choose. Baker is perhaps a little understated as Lt Chard, but try Nigel Green's patrician CSgt Bourne or James Booth's Hooky for size. Great stuff.

The story is all there in it's rousing, inspirational glory and, while there may well be a few historical inaccuracies, it's a fine, fine piece of story telling. Good too that it doesn't stray too far into the trap of waving the imperialist, jingoistic flag (well, not too energetically). There is a strongly expressed anti-war sentiment when Bromhead confesses at the end of the battle to feeling "sick and ashamed". Perhaps too strongly expressed as, earlier in the film, a tommy, dying in the doctor's arms, cries that eternal cliche "Why? WHY? WHYYY?" One needs to remember that the film IS, after all, half a century old and the emotional reaction against several big wars in the preceding decades must have loomed large.

One might also forgive the producers their depiction of the "baddies" as little more than a faceless, relentless horde for much the same reason (and of course it was barely more than 10 years since another generation of tommies faced a literal yellow horde on a hilside in Korea). While Zulu does its best to treat the them with respect and awe, they are, in the end, mostly little more than a brown sea to be cut down with seemingly unlimited supplies of 577/450 Boxer-Henry ammunition. Nevertheless, the film does try its best and the mass wedding ceremony at the opening of the film does try to remind us that here are 'many brides who may soon become widows'. A remake would certainly give the home team a more decently human aspect. Hopefully it would teach the extras to act a little better - there are some classic, heart-clutchingly melodramatic deaths to be seen here, along with one or two wrist-watch bearing spear-men.

All that said, like many costume dramas, this film ages very well indeed. It still looks good and, hopefully, will continue to be enjoyed by lads for many more years to come. For the full story, try Adrian Greaves' "Rorke's Drift" and Donald Morris' excellent "Washing of the Spears" for the bigger picture.

The 2 disc special (DVD) has a number of interesting extras including a couple of fascinating "making of" documentaries.

Pte Cole: Why is it us? Why us?
CSgt Bourne: Because we're here, lad. Nobody else. Just us.
Comment Comments (19) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 13, 2014 7:27 AM BST


The Devil's Own
The Devil's Own
Price: 3.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sharpe's Boots - too big to fill?, 28 Feb 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Devil's Own (Kindle Edition)
Garry Douglas Kilmore's Fancy Jack series could, uncharitably, be described as a Sharpe knock-off and if you've read any of Cornwell's famous (and extensive) series about a maverick redcoat Sergeant's adventures during the Napoleonic wars, you'll recognise many of the tried and tested tropes. GDK has tweaked the setting somewhat, putting Sgt "Fancy Jack" Crossman down in the Crimean war, but in terms of plot and theme it would be hard to slip a penny between this and the Sharpe series.

To be fair, the first novel does seem well researched and it's good fun to take a peek inside this well-known, but largely (fictionally at least) untouched Victorian misadventure-cum-war and Kilmore conscientiously includes (as did Cornwell) a number of interesting historical figures into the story, including Mary Seacole, James Barry. The plot trips along at a sprightly pace with lots of action (the battle scenes are described rather breathlessly), intrigue and character development. Sadly, GDK is no Bernard Cornwell. The writing is best described as competent... less kindly as clunky and amateurish with some very annoying grammatical failings; the dialogue is stilted, prosy and often simply unconvincing.

On balance this is a workmanlike attempt to follow in Bernard Cornwell's footsteps. Kilmore doesn't quite pull it off and is let down by his writing skills. One would hope that these might improve in subsequent intallments.


Quaker Oats Oat So Simple Original 12 Sachets 324g PMP (Pack of 5)
Quaker Oats Oat So Simple Original 12 Sachets 324g PMP (Pack of 5)
Offered by CRAIGIE ON LINE
Price: 14.60

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Does what it says on the sachet, 21 Feb 2014
About as healthy a breakfast as you can manage to get out of a packet. I have a special drawer at work full of these sachets and my morning routine is to cycle to work, make up a cuppa and a bowl of porridge and enjoy a quiet half hour of brekky at my desk.

As the review title says, this stuff really does do what it says on the tin. It's oats and not much else and it is simple to make up. Much simpler than "real" porridge done in the saucepan (half an hour to cook, 5 minutes to eat, an hour to clean the pan). I make this up with water instead of milk to keep it /really/ healthy and only add a half-teaspoon of sugar. A tiny pinch of salt would help the flavour but I do without.

Of course you can do what you like with this - add jam, syrup, dried fruit... I even tried adding pumpkin seeds & walnuts. Feckin' 'orrible it was.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 26, 2014 1:30 AM GMT


Quaker Oats Oat So Simple Original 5 x 12 sachets
Quaker Oats Oat So Simple Original 5 x 12 sachets
Offered by Sweet Addicts
Price: 19.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Does what it says on the sachet, 21 Feb 2014
About as healthy a breakfast as you can manage to get out of a packet. I have a special drawer at work full of these sachets and my morning routine is to cycle to work, make up a cuppa and a bowl of porridge and enjoy a quiet half hour of brekky at my desk.

As the review title says, this stuff really does do what it says on the tin. It's oats and not much else and it is simple to make up. Much simpler than "real" porridge done in the saucepan (half an hour to cook, 5 minutes to eat, an hour to clean the pan). I make this up with water instead of milk to keep it /really/ healthy and only add a half-teaspoon of sugar. A tiny pinch of salt would help the flavour but I do without.

Of course you can do what you like with this - add jam, syrup, dried fruit... I even tried adding pumpkin seeds & walnuts. Feckin' 'orrible it was.


Quaker Oat So Simple Original 20 x 27g 540g
Quaker Oat So Simple Original 20 x 27g 540g
Offered by Cooking Marvellous
Price: 6.15

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Does what it says on the sachet, 21 Feb 2014
About as healthy a breakfast as you can manage to get out of a packet. I have a special drawer at work full of these sachets and my morning routine is to cycle to work, make up a cuppa and a bowl of porridge and enjoy a quiet half hour of brekky at my desk.

As the review title says, this stuff really does do what it says on the tin. It's oats and not much else and it is simple to make up. Much simpler than "real" porridge done in the saucepan (half an hour to cook, 5 minutes to eat, an hour to clean the pan). I make this up with water instead of milk to keep it /really/ healthy and only add a half-teaspoon of sugar. A tiny pinch of salt would help the flavour but I do without.

Of course you can do what you like with this - add jam, syrup, dried fruit... I even tried adding pumpkin seeds & walnuts. Feckin' 'orrible it was.


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