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C. Nation "chrisnation" (Bristol UK)
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Gaodhol's Vision
Gaodhol's Vision
Offered by groove_temple
Price: £27.83

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars OK, I'm biased. But I still genuinely like it a lot., 29 Aug 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Gaodhol's Vision (Audio CD)
I have to declare an interest. The producer of this album, John Field, is a lifelong friend of mine. I was present at almost all the recording of this album [and hours of material that never made it into the mix]. I got to know Joe pretty well, too.

Having said all that, I never owned a 12" LP of the album. The original was recorded for Decca but, having failed to work out how to market it, they passed it from pillar to post till it eventually got released by A & M, I think. By that time, we'd all moved on to something else. I had a cassette [which sounded dreadful] of the 'safety mix' from the 1/4" stereo master. It was a travesty of the sound and I could never listen to it. Maybe it was recorded on a telephone answering machine. They took cassettes, in those days.

But all these years, having listened to them hundreds of times in the studio, some of the tunes have been going through my head and Rory Gallagher's guitar solo has always stayed with me. When I got the CD, 30 years since the album was recorded, it still sounded as fresh as the first time I heard it. Two tunes have been tacked on to the original track listing and I cannot say they have improved the whole. The album was very carefully constructed, in its first incarnation, in the same vein as John Field's own albums with Jade Warrior and I find the two extra numbers simply don't mesh with the rest. The sound, instrumentation and arrangements are totally different, for a start.

But the original core of the album still holds up [and now we can just hit the skip button to miss out tracks we don't want to hear]. I'm not familiar enough with traditional Irish music to comment on this album's provenence but the Celtic roots of this music have been turned into some memorable rock. There are also some really sweet, lyrical passages of great beauty and some great anthemic passages.

I realise I haven't said very much about the music. I'm not very good a wiseacring about music. I'd say, if you like Celtic music and rock, this is as good a combination of the two as you are likely to hear. Joe O'Donnell did for the violin what Alain Stivell did for the Celtic harp: top quality rock music from the heart of their respective traditions.

Talking of harps, another story from the recording. The harp player Skyla Kanga [who I see is not on the credits on the CD] was heavily pregnant at the time of her sessions. She told John & Joe, "If you need any of the top notes playing you'll have to get someone else. I can't reach them at the moment!"

And listen out for Joe's scream in the final violin pizzicato section, after Gallaghaer's solo. I'm glad that wasn't edited out in the digital mix.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 5, 2012 11:21 PM BST


Sweex  Sa140 10" Neoprene Netbook Sleeve Skyline
Sweex Sa140 10" Neoprene Netbook Sleeve Skyline

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for most netbooks, 24 Aug 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I got one of these for a Sam NC10. Three NC10's later, all sent back for being duff, I got a Tosh NB200. The Tosh is a bit bigger than the Sam and the battery sticks out more [9hrs to the NC10's 6! Ha! Tosh rules!] but you can still get the zip closed without straining the fabric too much.

For Tosh NB200 owners: the Tosh is best placed battery up in the sleeve because the battery is not the full width of the Tosh, and the 'cutouts' at the corners make it much easier to get the zip around them.

And even with the sleeve accommodating a netbook slightly larger than it was designed for, I can still get my LG DVD writer into the secondary zipped compartment PLUS a 3com broadband dongle and the USB leads for the dongle and LG [both short 200mm versions]

So my entire netbook rig will fit into this excellent protective sleeve. It's perfect as a first line of defence against scuffing, dings and damp. The whole lot will live safely in a shoulder bag along with all sorts of other stuff.


The Almond Blossom Appreciation Society
The Almond Blossom Appreciation Society
by Chris Stewart
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beginning to rub a bit thin, 24 Aug 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Chris Stewart is an entertaining writer. His first book had the merit of freshness and novelty, a humourous voice with a self-deprecating touch. His second continued the story and introduced us to the Stewarts as a family establishing genuine roots in their locale. I have to say that I would not have put up with the parrot, once it had shown its true colours. It would be me or the parrot and as the Army have me registered as a Marksman, guess who would lose?

This latest volume is beginning to show signs of, as another reviewer has said 'the milking parlour'. Life on the farm has not provided enough new material - as lives on farms everywhere tend not to do - so a selection of anecdotes from times past and other places are stirred into the mix to rev it up a bit, add flavour where it seemed there might turn out to be precious little. Banal accounts of everyday life, including first attempts at driving by his daughter, do not cut it.

His spell with the migrant support group was self-deprecation taken to farcical levels. I didn't find Stewart's account of how useless he was at answering the phone at all amusing, just extremely irritating. I don't enjoy reading someone's account of how genuinly, profoundly stupid they can be. I can't remember how it all ended but if I was on the staff at the place I would have asked him to take his bungling incompetence elsewhere and leave them to get on with the job.

The account of the Moroccan immigrants, notwithstanding Stewart's genuine concern, was touched by sentimentality and naivety. On the one hand chilly northern Europe demands cheap produce from hot southern Europe. On the other, the EU has a policy, sensible in my view, of regulating the flow of immigrants from North Africa and elsewhere. It is simply absurd to think that everybody who wants to come, can come. Those that do so illegally inevitably find themselves in dire straits. Chris Stewart's liberal conscience, with the addition of a fair dollop of liberal guilt, wishes it were otherwise. But it ain't.

Unless Chris Stewart can move up several gears, to the level of Norman Lewis's 'Voice Of The Old Sea', which wonderfully describes, in lyrical prose, a place where nothing much happens and the narrator is largely invisible, the seam of El Valero is played out. The proof of this seems to be the publication of 'Three Ways To Capsize A Boat', an account of life prior to El Valero. This sounds like more of how ditzy Chris Stewart can be, this time afloat.


LG  GP08LU10 8x Ext. DVDRW Slimline L/S USB Kit
LG GP08LU10 8x Ext. DVDRW Slimline L/S USB Kit
Offered by DVDSOFTWORKS
Price: £59.97

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect partner to a drive-free netbook., 24 Aug 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this as a sub for the Litescribe I got for my Tosh NB200. The Litescribe was a] dead on arrival b] a funny, polygonal shape that made it awkward to stash.

The shape looked more sensible - just off-square with radiused corners.

It is incredibly light. It's about 20mm thick. It worked straight out of the box. It runs from just one USB port on the NB200 - no need for the Y-lead.

Some people have had trouble with the USB plug falling out of the socket on the LG. Well, the other day I inadvertantly moved my Tosh, forgetting that the LG was still plugged in. The LG was dragged across the table by the USB lead for about two feet. The cable remained firmly plugged in at both ends. Seems as if LG have attended to this problem.

In addition, it will live comfortably in the neoprene sleeve that also accommodates my Tosh, which is slightly larger than the sleeve was designed for. The Liteon would not fit, being such an awkward shape.

So, for an optical drive to go on the road with, to complement your netbook, look no further.


No Title Available

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Light, compact & effective, 24 Aug 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This monopod, with a Manfrotto Monopod Quick Release head on it, has enough extension to bring a DSLR to comfortable eye level. It's made of pretty thin aluminium tube and will not stand much rough treatment. But something more robust is either going to be significantly heavier or significantly more expensive [carbon fibre].

There was a moment when I had to measure it and check its spec against the Velbon website, so stumped was I to find and extend the final section. But they're all in there somewhere. Just be patient and careful when extending them, as the lower two sections are mere twiglets and could easily be bent.

It suits my needs. It will easily fit in a carry-on size suitcase. Only the head sticks out of my shoulder bag when I'm carrying it around. It's very light, it's tall enough and it's cheap. If I duff it up, I'll buy another.


Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi
Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi
by Geoff Dyer
Edition: Paperback

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Dire., 24 Aug 2009
For starters, if you don't want to read two full-on descriptions of sex in thorough-going physiological detail, complete with dripping pudenda and a passing moment of urophilia, look away from this book now. Passages describing sex in this way are just like being faced with other people's holiday videos, only more so - an indulgence for them and very boring for you.

I like much of Geoff Dyer's writing. I found 'Yoga For People Who Can't Be Bothered To Do It' very funny. I found 'Out Of Sheer Rage' equally funny and also interesting, when he gets serious about Lawrence. 'Paris Trance' [fiction] was an amusing read but regrettably included my introduction to Dyer's predilection for urophilia, with which I could well do without. 'But Beautiful' was a genuine stab at revealing the magic of jazz.

One thing in Dyer's writing that is getting really tedious is the druggy stuff. The first segment of this book, set around the Venice Biennale Art Festival, includes Jeff [Dyer's alter-ego] getting stoned on weed and cocaine. Once again, one of the most boring things one can be faced with is another person's description of being stoned and what they did when they were stoned. The fact that the stoned person in this case is a fictional character is all part of the character's make-up, agreed. But if you have read all of Dyer's books, as I have and find he's still serving up this druggy stuff, in fiction and non-fiction [and this book is clearly based on Dyer's own life], time comes when one has had enough and wants to shout, "Grow up, Dyer! It's boring! We don't want to hear about it!" Dyer obviously thinks that descriptions of being drunk are also interesting, because the characters in the story spend the whole time revolving around Venice, from one party to another opening to another reception, necking endless Belinis and - oddly enough - beer. No mention of wine. Not a Barolo in sight.

He does touch on an important point in one of the descriptions of being stoned - there inevitably comes a moment every time one is stoned when one longs for the time when one is no longer stoned. It was this that made me quit smoking dope, aged 26. Dyer is 51 and may have given up drugs since recording the events in this book. If so, it will improve his writing, if for no other reason than we won't have to read banal accounts of Dyer or his characters under the influence of drugs.

There are two novellas in this volume. The two connections between them are the type-casting of the two main characters, Jeff Atman in Venice and `I', the narrator in Varanasi, as alter-egos of Geoff Dyer. The second is that the woman that Atman has a fling with in Venice tells him that she is going travelling in Asia, including Varanasi. At that point I was sure she'd reappear in the second section - it looked like Dyer had set this up, so it was surprising when it didn't happen.

It might have added some interest to the Varanasi section [despite the certainty of more gynaecological detail] because the narrator gives us no more than a word-picture of the riverside of Varanasi, with no added narrative. Just `Geoff' hanging out in Varanasi and gradually going native - he ends up loafing about in a dhoti, as opposed to loafing about in jeans. He gets stoned, naturally. Considering that this is supposed to be fiction, it's so devoid of most of the attributes of fiction as to be something else: faction, maybe.

The Venice section? See above. Parties. Belinis with mates from the London media/culture scene, sex, freeloading, hot weather, more Belinis, more sex and then girl leaves, boy mopes. Weather gets hotter.

This book won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for comic writing. The prize was a bottle of Bolly, 52 copies of the Everyman Wodehouse edition and having a Gloucester Old Spot pig named after the title of the book. Maybe it would have deserved these things if it had been comic. It isn't. In spite of Dyer's talent as a writer, it's facile, indulgent and boring.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 9, 2014 1:49 PM BST


Liteon  Esau208-06 8x Slim External Usb2 Dvdrw + Lightscribe White
Liteon Esau208-06 8x Slim External Usb2 Dvdrw + Lightscribe White

1.0 out of 5 stars DOA, so who knows?, 18 Aug 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It's a well specced device. Many people seem to like it. Mine, however, was dead on arrival.

It would not power up via the mains adaptor, nor the twin USB>laptop leads, so I cannot comment on its functionality. The only thing I can say about the thing is that the eccentric shape is not particularly helpful, as far as storing it is concerned. I stripped out half the sleeves from a disc wallet. Thickness-wise it was ideal but the eccentric shape mean that one corner was hard up against the zip. Square or rectangular would have been better in that respect. As mine has to go back, I think I'll buy the equivalent LG. No funny shapes there.

The important point I'd like to make concerns the vendor. Avides is a Marketplace seller of electronics. None of their listings are for brand new items, as defined by Amazon. Some are described as 'like new' or 'as new'. My Liteon was described as 'new with slight package damage'. However, 'slight package damage' as I have now finally come to accept, means that it has been opened and someone has used the device previously. I bought a Samsung netbook from them that was described as 'exhibition piece, like new, slight package damage.' That was duff and had to go back, too.

The fact is that these devices are returns and go back on sale just as they came in, with the faults still on board. I had two more Sam NC10s - from Amazon Warehouse - described 'as new, cosmetic blemishes [they mean fingerprints], resealed package.' They were both duff as well and were returned.

Avides have been swift with return label and refund in the past. I hope they will be again. Then, that's it with them, for me.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 23, 2009 8:12 PM BST


Sigma 10-20mm f4-5.6 EX DC HSM Nikon Fit Lens
Sigma 10-20mm f4-5.6 EX DC HSM Nikon Fit Lens
Offered by WH Express
Price: £315.00

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's a permanent fixture on my D60, 12 Jun 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
My favourite focal lengths on my 35mm film cameras used to be 28mm and 20mm. When I worked with John Claridge as his assistant, I often used to wish I could afford the 15mm Nikkor that he used so often.

Now this Sigma gives me 15 - 30mm [equiv] and I'm pleased as can be. If I was asked to spec a focal length range for a wide zoom, this is exactly it. The drawing you get from lenses from 30mm and wider gives the kind of interest I'm looking to produce in my pictures. It's immediately made itself my default lens and max-wide tends to be my default focal length.

I've got a sklight filter in permanent residence and that is very frequently joined by a polariser. Polariser filters are by nature quite thick beasts so I do get a little vignetting at max wide and well stopped down but the merest touch of zoom in - usually only removing some of the area I'd already dialed in for a crop, but in any event, not usually enough change to ruin the shot - and the vignetteing is gone.

How Sigma do this for the price, I don't know but it's worth every penny. It seems chunkily well made. The images seem to be very high quality - tho I'm pretty new to digital photography so have no great fund of experience to draw on. I'd buy the equiv Nikkor every time if money was no object but Nikkors are totally beyond my budget.

But anyone with a Sigma's worth of dosh to spend on a wide zoom, as opposed to the Nikon or Canon equiv, is going to be really pleased with buying this lens.


AA Maxi Scale France 2005 (AA Atlases)
AA Maxi Scale France 2005 (AA Atlases)
by Institut Geographique National (France)
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent mapping, 12 Jun 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
OK, this atlas is 2005. There is probably an up to date edition. As I have found with my 2007 TomTom Euromapping, not very much changes in the road system of France [or most other places, come to that]

This mapping is clear as crystal. Black names on white b/g. Roads stand out very well. A pleasure to look at. An example of what printed mapping should look like.

The designers of the Insight atlas should open a page of theirs and compare with this AA one. If they are honest, they know theirs is a failure. This is the one to have.

I keep mine on show in the vehicle to let the pax know that their guide has paper backup to his two satnavs - but the paper atlas does not breathe "You have reached your destination, darling" in Joanna Lumley's silky tones, like my SatNav does!


France Insight Travel Atlas (Insight Travel Atlases)
France Insight Travel Atlas (Insight Travel Atlases)
by Langenscheidt Publishers
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.43

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very poorly designed. Mapping background far too dark, 12 Jun 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The first property required of a road atlas is to be accurate. Whatever it looks like, it's useless if not.

The second attribute it must have is ease of reading, clarity. This road atlas fails badly on that point.

The mapping is printed on a background of tones of green so strong that, as the terrain is also shaded to show topography, minor roads in white often pretty much disappear.

I'm a bit of a mappist. I read them for pleasure. This one I keep only because it's parked at a friend's house in London from whence I often depart on tour [as a guide] and as long as she doesn't mind, at least I've got something on France to hand. To read it I need a good strong reading light and either my x3.5 detail/emergency magnifying readers or a magnifying glass to go with my usual x1.75 readers. Well, that's no good, Tiresome, in fact.

So I immediately rejected this atlas as one to take on the road with me as paper back-up to my two satnavs, in favour of the AA Super Scale Road Atlas of France [mapping by the French Geo Institute]. That is clear as crystal. Black names on white b/g. Roads stand out very well. A pleasure to look at. An example of what printed mapping should look like.

The designers of this Insight atlas should open a page of theirs and compare with the AA one. If they are honest, they know theirs is a failure.


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