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Colin Smith (England)
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Rockport Mens Suede Mule Slippers
Rockport Mens Suede Mule Slippers
Price: £24.99 - £30.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Very impressive Rockport slippers, 3 Jan. 2013
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Bought these as a prezzie (for myself). I'm really pleased with them - good value too! (got mine for under £18). The product picture doesn't do these full justice IMO. The suede uppers look & feel soft yet strong, while the tough-feeling but fairly flexible soles have ridges which provide a good grip on the tiles on my kitchen floor. The inside of the uppers feel soft, while the padding underfoot feels pleasantly supportive and comfy. The red Tartan lining looks very warm & inviting against the darker uppers. The sizing was accurate too - I'm glad I discovered them.


Nearest And Dearest [DVD]
Nearest And Dearest [DVD]
Dvd ~ Hylda Baker
Offered by Digizoneuk
Price: £24.58

5.0 out of 5 stars One of the better sitcom-to-movie 'spin-offs', 2 Jan. 2013
This review is from: Nearest And Dearest [DVD] (DVD)
As with the later "Rising Damp: The Movie" this 1972 adaption for the big screen sees many scenes & gags cobbled together from the original series of the successful Granada TV production of "Nearest and Dearest". The cast reprise their roles effectively (after watching the TV series, it feels a little strange without the background laughter). The star of the show remains Hylda Baker, who turns in another highly engaging performance as the hilariously flustered mistress of malapropisms. The double-entendres & saucy seaside-postcard humour comes thick and fast, along with some witty Northern 'death' jokes. As was often the case in the 70's, the movie is yet another example of a popular comedy series receiving the 'movie' treatment, and is a good introduction to the more raucous TV series.

As others have already mentioned - the quality of this Simply Home Entertainment (DD Video) release could have been better. The print is grainy & faded in places while the sound is on the low side. There are no extras or subtitles.


Panasonic WES9027Y1361 Combi Foil and Blade
Panasonic WES9027Y1361 Combi Foil and Blade
Price: £36.38

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gave my shaver a new lease of life, 14 Dec. 2012
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Bought this for my Panasonic Premium ES-RF41 Wet and Dry Four-Blade Men's Shaver. After struggling along with a blunt set of razors for the last few months, it's probably easy to overestimate the quality of these but I'm delighted with them. After carrying out the simple task of replacing the blades & foils I immediately tried them out - really pleased with the results, it shaved (excuse the pun!) about a third off the usual time it takes me to obtain a satisfactory close shave.

I was only half interested in replacing the foils but the change is very noticeable - a smoother shave with less abrasiveness & friction to the skin. The knock-on effect to the shaver itself seems to be a new lease of life, with a slightly quiter & smoother sound which along with everything else, takes some of the hassle out of one of the most boring chores we men have to put up with.


The Six Million Dollar Man - The Complete Collection [DVD] [2012]
The Six Million Dollar Man - The Complete Collection [DVD] [2012]
Dvd ~ Lee Majors
Price: £100.10

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still expensive as I write - so what do you get for your money?, 10 Dec. 2012
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I suspect there will be a number of 50-somethings who like myself, spent their teen years following this series through most of the 70's. I must confess that I hadn't seen any of the episodes since their original broadcast until buying the Universal/Playback R2 release of season one a few years ago. Rediscovering the series again, the stories and action seem to unfold at a more relaxed pace than my memory would have me believe - no bad thing of course, just like meeting a long-lost friend in my case.

The series kicks off with Colonel Steve Austin (Lee Majors) barely clinging on to life following a near-fatal crash involving a NASA aircraft. His shattered legs, arm, and an eye are replaced with astronomically expensive bionic limbs & an ultra-sensitive eye (hence the 'Six Million Dollar' title) developed by the US government. The new anatomical additions mean that Austin is now "better, stronger, faster" than ever before. Austin's 'debt' for these revolutionary replacements is to be repaid by Austin agreeing to work for the government's OSI division, whose director, Oscar Goldman (Richard Anderson) sends Austin on various secret missions.

What follows is a collection of mostly 50-minute episodes, with themes including espionage, sci-fi (aliens, 'Bigfoot' etc) but generally 'human' stories. Austin really isn't your stereotypical all-action hero with girls swooning at his feet, but is more a down-to-earth & reserved but friendly individual, with the 'bionic' angle used sparingly & not as a gimmicky crowd-pleaser. I've grown very fond of Lee Majors' understated performance as the reluctant superhero with super-strength. Amongst other things, the slow-motion 'bionic' effects place the show firmly in the 1970's, a cult series with nostalgic memories for those who remember it from first time around.
Having come to this boxset after watching the complete series of Bill Bixby's "The Incredible Hulk" it's interesting to compare various aspects from both series: the 'scientific' pilot stories, followed by the more 'human story' episodes - with each central character possessing 'super-human' strength.

As for the picture & sound quality, the restored and remastered prints on this complete & uncut collection are a big improvement on the previous Universal/Playback R2 release of season one - nicely cleaned up. As with many other NTSC discs in my collection I occasionally noticed some picture instability when the action moved quickly across the screen, but it's something I personally can live with. This Region 2+4 Fabulous Films release also includes English subtitles. Each series features an illustrated booklet with an episode list with synopsis. The collection is stored in 6 plastic cases, which are then housed in a sturdy cardboard 'cube' case which has a ribbon insert (with a ribbon handle to lift the lid). I have included a list of the episodes and extras below....

***SEASON ONE***
*The Six Million Dollar Man (Pilot Movie 1). *Wine Women & War (Pilot Movie 2). *The Solid Gold Kidnapping (Pilot Movie 3). *Population Zero. *Survival of The Fittest. *Operation Firefly. *Day of The Robot. *Little Orphan Airplane. *Doomsday And Counting. *Eyewitness To Murder. *The Rescue of Athena One. *Dr. Wells is Missing. *The Last of The Fourth of Julys. *Burning Bright. *The Coward. *Run, Steve, Run.
***BONUS FEATURES.(DISC SIX)***
*All three pilot movies in their original broadcast versions. *Featurettes: real bionics. *An iconic opening. *Season one VIP's: a celebration of the Six Million Dollar Man guest stars. *Bionic breakdown. *OSI mission debriefing: executive producer Harve Bennett. *Bionic gallery.

***SEASON TWO***
*Nuclear Alert. *The Pioneers. *Pilot Error. *The Pal-Mir Escort. *The Seven Million Dollar Man. *Straight On 'Til Morning. *The Midas Touch. *The Deadly Replay. *Act of Piracy. *Stranger In Broken Fork. *The Peeping Blonde. *The Cross-Country Kidnap. *Lost Love. *The Last Kamikaze. *The Return of The Robot Maker. *Taneha. *Look Alike. *The E.S.P. Spy. *The Bionic Woman - Part 1. *The Bionic Woman - Part 2. *Outrage In Balinderry. *Steve Austin, Fugitive.
***BONUS FEATURES***
*Featurette: The bionic sound effects. *Season two VIP's: a celebration of the Six Million Dollar Man guest stars. *Audio commentaries on selected episodes from writer/producer Kenneth Johnson. *Bionic gallery.

***SEASON THREE***
*The Return of The Bionic Woman - Part 1. *The Return of The Bionic Woman - Part 2. *The Price of Liberty. *The Song And Dance Spy. *The Wolf Boy. *The Deadly Test. *Target In The Sky. *One of Our Running Backs Is Missing. *The Bionic Criminal. *The Blue Flash. *The White Lightning War. *Divided Loyalty. *Clark Templeton O'Flaherty. *The Winning Smile. *The Bionic Woman: Welcome Home, Jaime - Part 1. *The Bionic Woman: Welcome Home, Jaime - Part 2. *Hocus-Pocus. *The Secret of Bigfoot - Part 1. *The Secret of Bigfoot - Part 2. *The Golden Pharoah. *Love Song For Tanya. *The Bionic Badge. *Big Brother.
***BONUS FEATURES.(DISC SEVEN)***
*Featurette: The bionic sound effects. *Season three VIP's: a celebration of the Six Million Dollar Man guest stars. *OSI mission debriefing: writer and producer Kenneth Johnson. *Audio commentaries on selected episodes from writer/producer Kenneth Johnson and director Cliff Bole. *Bionic gallery.

***SEASON FOUR***
*The Return of Bigfoot - Part 1. *The Bionic Woman: The Return of Bigfoot - Part 2. *Nightmare In The Sky. *Double Trouble. *The Most Dangerous Enemy. *H+2+O=Death. *The Bionic Woman: Kill Oscar - Part 1. *Kill Oscar - Part 2. *The Bionic Woman: Kill Oscar - Part 3. *The Bionic Boy (97 mins). *Vulture of The Andes. *The Thunderbird Connection (99 mins). *A Bionic Christmas Carol. *Task Force. *The Ultimate Imposter. *Death Probe - Part 1. *Death Probe - Part 2. *Danny's Inferno. *Fires of Hell. *The Infiltrators. *Carnival of Spies. *U-509. *The Privacy of The Mind. *To Catch The Eagle. *The Ghostly Teletype.
***BONUS FEATURES.(DISC NINE)***
*Featurette: The Six Million Dollar fans. *Season four VIP's: a celebration of the Six Million Dollar Man guest stars. *OSI mission debriefing: Richard Anderson (Oscar Goldman). *Audio commentary from director Cliff Bole. *Bionic gallery.

***SEASON FIVE***
*Sharks - Part 1. *Sharks - Part 2. *Deadly Countdown - Part 1. *Deadly Countdown - Part 2. *Bigfoot V. *Killer Wind. *Rollback. *Dark Side of The Moon - Part 1. *Dark Side of The Moon - Part 2. *Target: Steve Austin. *The Cheshire Project. *Walk A Deadly Wing. *Just A Matter of Time. *Return of Deathprobe - Part 1. *Return of Deathprobe - Part 2. *The Lost Island (97 mins). *The Madonna Caper. *Dead Ringer. *Date With Danger - Part 1. *Date With Danger - Part 2. *The Moving Mountain.
***BONUS FEATURES.(DISC SEVEN)***
*Featurette: The Six Million Dollar Man's best villains and best fights. *Season five VIP's: a celebration of The Six Million Dollar Man guest stars. *OSI mission debriefing: Martin E. Brooks (Dr Rudy Wells). *Bionic gallery.

***BONUS FEATURES.(5-DISC SET)***
*Return of The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman (1987 Reunion Movie).
*Bionic Showdown: The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman (1989 Reunion Movie).
*Bionic Ever After (1994 Reunion Movie).
*Expanded Syndication Version of Pilot TV Movie 2: Wine, Women And War - Parts 1 and 2.
*Expanded Syndication Version of Pilot TV Movie 3: The Solid Gold Kidnapping - Parts 1 and 2.

*FEATURETTES*
*TV Goes Bionic: The Origins of The Six Million Dollar Man
*The Bionic Age of TV: The Success of The Six Million Dollar Man.
*Top Secret: OSI, NASA and Bionics.
*The Reunion Movies: Life After The Series.
*The Pop Culture Effect.
*Bionic Action....Figures!
*The Stunts of The Bionic Age.

*MEET THE CAST*
*Getting To Know Lee Majors and Steve Austin.
*Getting To Know Lindsay Wagner and Jaime Sommers.
*Getting To Know Richard Anderson and Oscar Goldman.
*Getting To Know Dr. Rudy Wells.

*OSI MISSION DEBRIEFING:*
*Lee Majors.
*Bionic Gallery.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 23, 2014 3:07 AM BST


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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Warm & impressive, 5 Dec. 2012
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Unlike previous Christmas trees I've owned, this one arrived well-packaged (not squeezed into a small space, etc). The tree IS 6ft, and when fully assembled has a sturdy feel & didn't lean in the slightest. There was only a little malting when setting up. The tree comes in 3 sections, and I found it straight-forward to assemble (comes with basic assembly instructions). Three screws secure the bottom section into the base (no screwdriver required) after which the hinged branches opened out automatically on placement - just a few branches tended to point slightly downward, which had me making a few little adjustments to fill in any little gaps, after which the tree had a decent 'filled out' appearance.

The branches have a natural looking brown colouring, which along with the combination of soft and spikey foliage, gives the tree a pretty realistic look & feel. The white lights are evenly spread & are rather bright (and look particularly impressive in a dimly lit living room)... Then after a liberal sprinkling of tinsel & decorations, the tree really got me into the festive mood - very warm & welcoming.
The combined mains plug/tranformer has a relatively bulky & heavy feel, and the connecting lead to the 4-socket connector for the lights is just a few inches in length, so the use of an extension lead is advisable.

I think Santa must have been smiling down on me, as the tree arrived well inside the estimated delivery time (in my case the following day!)


Creeping Flesh [DVD] [1973] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Creeping Flesh [DVD] [1973] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Christopher Lee

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The beast with nine fingers, 1 Dec. 2012
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This review is for the Columbia/Sony release (got my copy for under £6). The remastered I.85:1 Anamorphic widescreen print is nice & clean with good sound quality. The colours are vivid but natural, which sets the tone from the off. The subtitles are in English & Japanese, there are no extras. This Region 1 release WILL also play on a R2 DVD player.

Any movie which features the combined talents of horror Meisters, Cushing & Lee is always worthy of the attention of fans of the genre, and this 1973 Columbia Pictures production is suitably impressive. 19th-century widower & scientist, Emmanuel Hildern (Peter Cushing) lives with his daughter, Penelope (Lorna Heilbron) with the pair sharing a gothic old house from where the eminent Hildern conducts his research. While examining a massive old human-like skeleton, Hildern accidently rehydrates one of the fingers & then manages to extract a sample of 'evil' blood which is then used to form the base of a serum. Meanwhile, Hildern's half-brother, James (Christopher Lee) runs a mental institution....

Directed by genre specialist, Freddie Francis, the movie is exquisitely photographed & looks rather sumptuous at times. A moody tale of insanity, murder and horror with an impressive gothic feel & appearance. The performances from Cushing & Lee don't disappoint, while the delicately-featured Ms Heilbron also impresses as the initially sweet-natured young lady who follows her late mother's tragic downward spiral of increasing insanity. Amongst the supporting cast, veteran character actor, George Benson appears as Cushing's lab assistant, while the robust stature of Kenneth J. Warren is put to effective use as the 'silent' patient who escapes from the institution, carrying enough menace in a relatively short appearance. Hammer stalwart, Michael Ripper puts in another obligatory appearance, while familiar bit-part player, Harry Locke also turns up as the keeper of the inn of 'ill-repute'.

Occasionally a tad slow in places (I prefer to call it slow-burning!) please don't let this put you off. With it's meaty climax, the movie is well worth sticking with & is essential viewing for Cushing/Lee fans.


Look at Life: Volume 5 - Cultural Heritage [DVD]
Look at Life: Volume 5 - Cultural Heritage [DVD]
Dvd ~ Various
Price: £20.22

44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More colourful 60's nostalgia, 23 Nov. 2012
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For those familiar with any of the previous releases in the "Look at Life" series, you'll have a fair idea of what to expect - yet another colourful collection of short features with running times of around 10 minutes each, a bright and breezy photo-album of snapshots of life in Britain, which were produced in the 1960's by The Rank Organisation for screening in their Odeon & Gaumont cinemas - a nostalgic collection with warm and cosy commentaries provided by Tim Turner, Michael Ingrams, John Witty, Bob Willcox, Antony Bilbow, Tom Naisby, Rowland Hill, Duncan Carse, Wynford Vaughan-Thomas, Vernon Greaves, John Westbrook, Stephen Potter & Paul Rogers.

The sixty-four films certainly cover a wide spectrum of cultural heritage themes, which is why I have included a full list of the titles below. The picture and sound quality is generally good (although the film "Garden of Tomorrow" is badly faded compared to the rest). There are no extras or subtitles. Please note that while currently advertised as a 3-disc set by Amazon, this is in fact a FOUR disc collection, with the discs stored in a single-size DVD case.

here is a list of the titles, with details taken from the included info....

***DISC ONE***
*A DOG'S LIFE.... A film looking at London from a dog's point of view.
*DOWN LONDON RIVER.... A leisurely journey through London along the Thames.
*COFFEE BAR.... A film that examines the cult world of the coffee bar and its habits.
*GARDEN OF TOMORROW.... A film for everyone who loves a garden, for everyone who loves a gadget, and for those who have never had the chance to see the Chelsea Flower Show in all its glory.
*HARVEST OF HOPS.... A look at a typical London family on their annual hop-picking holiday.
*ISLAND OF MEN.... Fair Isle, famous for its distinctive woollens, faces a problem: more than two thirds of its inhabitants are men. But the island is still a very happy place to live.
*TOP PEOPLE.... A look at a new generation in the City of London, from the crane drivers helping rebuild it to the flat-dwellers overlooking this throbbing heart of commerce.
*REBIRTH OF A CITY.... A film that documents the first steps in the rebuilding of Coventry after the devastation of the Second World War.
*SHOPPING BY THE TON.... A film showing London's main markets at their busiest time and capturing all the energy and bustle of the three old markets, the market men and their generations-old traditions.
*TOWNS BY DESIGN.... A look at some of the 'New Towns' being built around the country.
*FAIRS PLEASE.... A film that looks at contemporary fairs, and explores their popularity.
*RINGING THE CHANGES.... From small hand-bells to the great bell of Westminster, this is a film full of music, bringing into focus the fascination of an ancient craft.
*HYDE PARK CORNER.... A look at the changes being made at Hyde Park Corner, in particular the Underpass.
*THE BIG BLOW.... This film puts the spotlight on the human and mechanical components that make up the brass band - from a flourishing band in Wiltshire to the world-famous Black Dyke Mills band in Yorkshire.
*WOMAN-POWER... Author and broadcaster Stephen Potter shows why no man should ever underestimate the spending power - and influence - of women in modern Britain.
*ART IS A BUSINESS.... A look at the contemporary British art world, and the increasing interest in all its aspects.

***DISC TWO***
*COUNTING HEADS.... An account of the ten-yearly census - the first record in colour of the entire operation.
*LOOKING FOR NOTHING.... A look at various sights, including the Manchester Whitweek walks, liners, pet-shop windows, and holes!
*THE DANCE OF LIFE.... A exploration of English folk dancing, including the Hobby Horse dance and the Furry Dance.
*WHY ALL THE RUSH?.... August Bank Holiday is traditionally the date around which most Britons fix their holidays, but those who think they will get away from it all are almost certainly in for a shock...
*ON THE MAP.... The story of the Ordnance Survey and the maps it has been producing for over two centuries, told in fascinating detail.
*CHICKENS IN THE MILL.... Over ten years, Lancashire saw a new industrial revolution: from 1950, more than 55 cotton mills were converted for light industries. This film examines the process of change for Lancashire's workers.
*TREASURE HOUSES.... A film capturing the appeal of the four hundred castles, halls and mansions in Britain that are now open to the public.
*STATE OCCASIONS.... Behind every state ceremonial is the Earl Marshal of England. And behind the Earl Marshal is the College of Arms. This film documents its fascinating, little-known work.
*DOWN IN THE FOREST.... A look at the work of the Forestry Commission.
*MEET THE MAYOR.... A look at the office of Mayor in Britain, and the Lord Mayor's Show in London.
*UNDER YOUR FEET.... Beneath our feet is a little-known world: this film reveals the labyrinth of London's sewers, an Aladdin's cave of silver, and the GPO's unique tube railway.
*THE SILENT CHANGE.... A film capturing the 800 years of pageantry and ceremonial that attends the induction of a new Lord Mayor of London.
*SIGNPOSTS OF THE SEA.... A fascinating look at the lighthouses and light-ships around Britain's coast.
*THE CITY'S BUILT FOR SHOOTING... A look at the cities that are constructed for the world of cinema, featuring trips to Pinewood and Shepperton.
*NEW UNIVERSITIES.... A look at seven new universities at the time of the biggest expansion in the history of university training in Britain.
*RAG TIME.... Look at life explores the world of students' rags in Manchester, Hull, Sheffield and Leeds.

***DISC THREE***
*MARKET DAY.... Taking a look at the British country market, and the problems it is facing.
*THEY LEARN AS THEY SEE.... Schoolchildren in Britain learn by going to see things for themselves, not simply by classroom instruction. Foreign trips, geography from the air and visits to historical sights all play their part.
*JAZZ ALL THE WAY.... The Look at Life cameras visit the outdoor festival at Cleethorpes to see 12 top jazz bands.
*ISLAND REFUGE.... The island of Skomer off the Pembrokeshire coast is one of Britain's many wildlife havens. This film details the work of warder David Saunders and his family.
*HOLIDAY CAMPS.... The holday camp is a social phenomenon that has spread far beyond the British Isles. Look at Life explores the range of amenities on offer.
*SOUND OF A CITY.... Against the background of the Swinging Blue Jeans, this film looks at how the Merseybeat groups revolutionised pop music in Britain and beyond.
*SAVING A HERITAGE.... A report on the National Trust and what it is doing to save our national heritage.
*THE WAY OF RECKONING.... A film detailing the change-over from the Imperial to the Metric system of weights and measures.
*LADY BY THE SEA.... A look at the world of one of our most venerable institutions: the seaside landlady.
*EARLY STARTERS.... A film that tells the story of Britain's nursery schools.
*BUT NOT ON A SUNDAY.... A look at a typical Sunday in England - and the changes that are taking place.
*THE THINGS THEY SELL.... An intriguing look at the many and varied types of British exports.
*BOYS WITHOUT GIRLS.... Boys' clubs have served Britain for more than a hundred years. Rich men helped establish them: today they are state-aided. This film looks at their history and speculates on their future.
*MEMBERS ONLY.... A visit to London's Clubland - from the smoky rooms of Soho, to the traditional clubs in St Jame's.
*CITY OF SAILORS.... Portsmouth is no longer the sea-faring city it once was: this film looks at its changing face.
*WHY DROWN YOURSELF?.... Just how safe are Britain's beaches? From the swimmer's - and non-swimmer's - angle, not safe enough: nor are the inland waterways, in which so many tragedies occur.

***DISC FOUR***
*IN THE LIVERY.... In the Middle Ages, merchants and craftsmen of the City of London formed guilds and companies, many of which still exist. But what role do they play in the modern world?
*THE NEEDLES POINT THE WAY.... To millions of people the Isle of Wight is a holiday destination with a famous yachting event - but it is an island full of surprises.
*CRISIS IN THE CATHEDRAL.... A look at the crisis facing Britain's cathedrals, with massive repairs demanding the investment of vast sums of money.
*THE TOWER OF BABBLE.... A fascinating look at the network of Post Office towers in some of Britain's major cities.
*ON TAPE FOR TOMORROW.... A look at the recording on tape of Welsh and Irish folk songs and stories.
*THE ABBEY BACKSTAGE.... Westminster Abbey is not only a treasure house and tourist attraction - it's also a business run by a community who, like the monks of old, spend their lives in its precincts.
*THE SHAPE OF THINGS.... A look at the Ministry of Public Building and Works and its status as one of the biggest patrons of the arts in Britain.
*THE CHURCHILL PILGRIMAGE.... From one of England's greatest stately homes to a grave in a little Oxfordshire churchyard, this film makes a journey that has become known as the Churchill Pilgrimage.
*HIGH AND DRY.... This film shows what is happening in the Cinque Ports. Only one of the seven - Dover - remains a port: shingle brought in by the tides has silted up the coastline of the other six towns.
*IN GEAR.... A look at high fashion in Sixties Britain, exploring the exhuberant styles on offer in the boutiques of our cities, and their colourful clientele.
*HIDDEN TREASURE.... An intriguing look at the three-fold job of the British Museum, which also probes the reasons why so many of its treasures remain hidden.
*GOODBYE, PICCADILLY.... A film about Piccadilly, made as the area is about to be dramatically redeveloped to make way for modern precincts and a traffic underpass.
*CHANGE AT THE TOWER.... A behind-the-scenes look at the work that goes on in the Tower of London.
*THE SPOILERS.... As the number of visitors to Britain's countryside increase, so too do the threats to the very things they have come to enjoy...
*QUEUE FOR GARDENS.... A trip to Kew Gardens and also to Syon Park, on the opposite side of the river.
*IN THE HONOURS LIST.... A look at the peerages, knighthoods and memberships of the various grades of the Orders of Chivalry rewarded to men and women who have deserved well of their country.


Solar Fire
Solar Fire
Price: £15.63

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Fire still burns brightly, 20 Nov. 2012
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This review is from: Solar Fire (Audio CD)
SOLAR FIRE (1973) is an interesting concept album inspired by keyboards virtuoso Manfred Mann's love of classical music, with inspiration drawn from composer Gustav Holst's "The Planets" suite. This influential prog-rock album could be argued to be the band's first to achieve 'classic' status (although sales at the time didn't reflect this).

After wearing my vinyl copy into the ground a number of years ago, I decided to give it a decent funeral after buying the CD. Although I always set aside enough time to listen to the whole album in one go, my favourite three tracks are Bob Dylan's "Father of Day, Father of Night", also "In The Beginning, Darkness" along with the title track "Solar Fire". The 'barking' playfulness of "Pluto The Dog" feels like a light-hearted interlude between the heavier stuff - with this track IMHO being the weakest on the album, I was slightly tempted to reduce my star rating to four, but with such a minor blip I didn't have the heart or the inclination to do so.

The overall highlight of the album for me personally would have to be Mick Rogers' beautifully emotive guitar solo on "Father of Day, Father of Night" (a cropped single version of the song is also included amongst the bonus tracks). The other very welcome (and fitting) bonus track is "Joybringer" which is a dazzling reworking of Holst's "Jupiter". Written by Mick Rogers, the track was only ever released as a single in Britain & was a top ten hit in the early 70's (and I recall it echoing around my local youth club back in '73).... Ah, great memories!...great album!


The Good Earth
The Good Earth
Price: £19.36

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Good Earth delivers a good harvest, 20 Nov. 2012
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This review is from: The Good Earth (Audio CD)
After seeing MMEB at Sheffield's City Hall in '78 I began collecting the band's albums in reverse-chronological order, which at the time kicked off with "Watch". For me, there's something uniquely different about the Earth Band sound, a Jazz-tinged prog-rock collection of melodic tracks - a melange of sounds with Mann's unmistakeable keyboard playing style permeating through the album.

It's always a pleasure to pick up an album knowing I'm not going to skip a single track, and every cut assembled here simply flies by. I don't have a particular favourite, although "Be Not Too Hard" has a habit of swirling around my head for days after listening to it. What's also so special about this album is the fact that it hasn't so-called 'dated' in any way down the years, and still sounds wonderfully fresh, along with it's still relevant 'eco' message.

I regard this album as one of the three points of guitarist/vocalist Mick Rogers' "Golden Triangle" era (with "Solar Fire" and "Nightingales and Bombers" making up the rest). If you're twisting my arm I would single out "Nightingales and Bombers" as my personal favourite of the three, but like another reviewer I would recommend all three to the curious. Happy listening!


A Haunting - 8DVD Box Set [2008]
A Haunting - 8DVD Box Set [2008]
Offered by Venture Online
Price: £27.99

5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Tedium ad nauseam, 12 Nov. 2012
Jeez, this is mind-numbing stuff. When buying this I was hoping for insightful and intelligent investigations & debate into the paranormal from experts in the field, a collection of hard-hitting docu-dramas with credible dialogue & believable responses from those affected by such traumatic events.

With the emphasis placed on entertainment & the pursuit of ratings, what I actually received was a collection of ludicrously dumbed-down re-enactments, with scenes & dialogue so hilariously clichéd it simply cracked me up!... Formulaic and repetitive, each risible episode usually drifts into Spinal Tap territory. There's a kind of naivety about it all - with barely a dissenting voice in the series, it's just accepted as is. I ask you - could anyone but the most gullible be taken in by any of it?... How anybody could possibly take this hokey baloney seriously is a mystery. To those responsible for the series: If you must tell fibs, at least be a little subtle about it - please don't insult the intelligence of those who have at least a couple of grey cells to rub together.

I will freely concede that the series is well-made, slickly edited with some spooky moments, along with good picture & sound quality. I will also admit to a few 'guilty' TV pleasures of my own, with plot-holes and implausibility's aplenty, but this series really takes the biscuit. I feel some of the show's lack of credibility seeps through into some of the performances - not sure if some of the actors are convinced by it, (although they soldier on bravely) what with some of the risible characters they have to portray - I'm often surprised by how they manage to keep a straight face. A question: if you discovered your dream home was inhabited by demons & malevolent spirits, what would be your first reaction?...fill your pants before crashing out the front door maybe?....then take a tip from some of these characters. With barely a hint of hysteria, these numpties react in a calm & measured way, facing each terrifying manifestation like an outbreak of bedbugs before eventually calling in some half-baked psychic/medium like it's getting in a pest control firm. Then when all else fails, in steps the church to evict the disembodied squatters.... Now don't forget to leave a complimentary bottle of Holy Water (camera zooms in).

Possibly the most excruciating 50-minutes I've spent this year (including the bout of toothache I suffered a couple of months ago) was sitting through the dire "Demon Child" in which a couple's young son displays increasingly disruptive behaviour under the alleged influence of a nasty spirit named "Man".... The naughty escapades include spending a penny in the wardrobe while poor Kitty nearly comes a cropper. If your child displayed such worrying behaviour, what would you do?...seek medical advise?...a trick cyclist?...counselling maybe?...not these lardheads. The whole thing is dragged out for an eternity, with help coming from a Native American Shaman who advises a ritual blessing which involves wafting smoke with a white feather in the house & front yard.

With implausibility's too numerous to mention, it all gets a bit beyond a joke when you see a couple of youths calmly conducting a night-time search of the local woods for a ghostly gunman. But my personal favourite has to be the mother taking her newborn back to the house of horrors - you couldn't make it up. By now my earlier feelings of amusement were quickly changing to boredom - the sheer lack of credibility completely shredded any entertainment value for me.

If you're searching for a 'documentary' series on the paranormal that's so shallow it wouldn't tax the intellect of a gnat & you don't mind having your intelligence insulted, then go ahead and fill your boots. If you fancy an intelligent in-depth analysis of the genre from reputable sources, then I would advise looking elsewhere. Now if you'll kindly excuse me I will return to my Scooby-Doo. Goodnight, au revoir & don't have nightmares.


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