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C. Nation "chrisnation" (Bristol UK)

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A Brief History of the Tudor Age (Brief Histories)
A Brief History of the Tudor Age (Brief Histories)
by Jasper Ridley
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.48

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 9 Jun. 2011
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I bought this book in error. I actually wanted a detailed account of the doings of H.VIII to clear up some liberties taken with historical fact by the script writers of 'The Tudors'. This is not the right book for that.

I found myself in a detailed and comprehensive description of all things Tudor, from taxation to the laws proscribing who may wear what hat made of what material [and we think we live in a nanny state!]

For a broad sweep of life in Tudor times, from sex and marriage to economics and architecture, I found this book really interesting, written with a light touch perfectly suitable for non-academics like me.

Very highly recommended.

Spain (Culture Shock)
Spain (Culture Shock)
by Marie Louis Graff
Edition: Paperback

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What do YOU think 1 Star means?, 9 Jun. 2011
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This review is from: Spain (Culture Shock) (Paperback)
This was written with Americans abroad in mind. As a very experienced European tour guide, with a mainly US clientele, I know for certain that Americans often find Europe pretty strange and also find it hard to adapt. Thus simplistic, stereotypical and banal books such as this one.

Of all the books on Spain, for anyone who asked me [and I've read loads, from Chris Stewart to Gerald Brennan], this is the last and least worth reading of them all.

Why? Because it is hysterical, biased, ill-considered, inaccurate, ignorant, small-minded, ungenerous, prejudiced, banal, full of hearsay ["I heard of a ... "Someone I know told me he saw ..."] and sweeping generalisations, many of them based on the results of the author or others doing something foolish and reaping the inevitable results.

I could find nothing of merit in it whatsoever - and I don't claim to know it all, either. Despite going to school in Estepona for a term in 1962 and going to Spain professionally and privately ever since, I'm still reading everything I can get, on paper and on-line, because next Spring my house goes on sale and I move to Valencia for good.

This book is equally useless for those going to Spain on holiday or for those contemplating a move there. For holiday makers it has no info/detail - you need a good guide like the Lonely Planet/Time Out/Cadogan/Pallas books. For potential residents it is hoplessly vague, generalised, inaccurate .

Read ANYTHING by Michael Jacobs. You will learn about Spain by the bucket-load and be vastly entertained the while.

Nylon Guitar Strap - Black
Nylon Guitar Strap - Black

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could be improved, 9 Jun. 2011
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This review is from: Nylon Guitar Strap - Black
I don't wear my Strat gun-slinger style, low down. Just about middling. But at this height, there is very little length adjustment left. Anyone taller than me [5'11"] or who likes to sling low, will find this strap too short.

The hole that takes the strap peg is a bit small. Once you have pushed the button thru' the bigger hole and worked it down the slit to the smaller hole, I found that the edges of the hole were trying to climb up over the button. I crammed the edges down with a blunt instrument. Ideally, the hole should be made 2-3 mm larger.

But it seems well constructed, strongly built. I just wish I'd bought it to fit onto my Strat Deluxe before I sold it, and kept the Fender strap from the Dlx for my new Plus.

The Tudors - Season 1-3 [DVD]
The Tudors - Season 1-3 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Offered by Magic Movies Ltd
Price: £14.67

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful entertainment, with the usual TV historical distortions, 29 Dec. 2010
Gorgeous cinematography, sumptuous costumes, a script based on history that you would be laughed at if you'd made it up ... As TV drama, this has it all. I've just watched Series 1-3 over two evenings. What a blast. Nothing, apart from 'Rome' comes close.

It's not perfect, of course. There is some unnecessarily anachronistic language. In a sequence where Anne Boleyn is running through a new dance routine with her ladies, she ends with "OK". I was so amazed that I rewound to hear it again. There is plenty of anachronistic music, too. Two examples that really stood out were a bit of 'Lazarus & Dives' by Ralph Vaughan Williams [1872 - 1958] and even a live action sequence of trumpeters giving a fanfare on some great occasion with a section from the Gill Evans/Miles Davis arrangement of 'Concerto de Aranjuez by Joaquín Rodrigo [d 1999]

Of course, these things don't spoil the narrative or the drama but if one is aware of stuff like this it does intrude, like a mic boom swinging into shot or a parked car visible in the background.

More serious is the blatant distortion of history. I have a particular beef about the Hollywood habit of rewriting the history of WW2, making out that the US pretty much won it all by themselves or even having major successes in events in which they had no part. The film 'Enigma' is a classic example of the latter.

In the Case of 'The Tudors', the major distortion I jib at is the marriage of Henry's sister Margaret to the king of Portugal and subsequent marriage to Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk. None of this is true. Margaret first married James IV of Scotland, important because her son became James V of Scotland and his daughter, her grand-daughter, was Mary Queen of Scots, whose existence was such a threat to Henry's daughter, Elizabeth.

Margaret then married Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus. Their daughter Margaret produced Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley and their son James VI of Scotland became James I of England, creating the Stuart dynasty and uniting Scotland and England under a common monarch.

Charles Brandon in fact married Henry's other sister, Mary. It was Mary who married a decrepit old king - Louis XII of France. After his early death, she and Brandon married. It was their grand-daughter who became the Queen of Nine Days, Lady Jane Grey.

The only reason I can think of as to why history was distorted to such a degree was to give 'Margaret' and Brandon plenty of time to get the hots for each other, cooped up at sea on the ship to Lisbon. The trip over the Channel to marry 'Margaret' off to Louis would have been far too short. Even in a Tudor sailing ship, Dover-Calais shouldn't take more than 4 hours, if the wind served.

But I still don't see why they had Margaret, not Mary, involved in this because it makes a monkey of subsequent events leading to the Stuart dynasty and the unification of the crowns of England and Scotland. After all, there's a rattling yarn to be had of the Stuart story but if Hirst wrote that, he'd have either to fudge it on account of his earlier fudge or rewrite history again by having Mary as the great-grandmother of James I, not Margaret.

But after all, this is still 5-Star entertainment.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 14, 2011 10:03 AM GMT

Korg GA40-BK Guitar and Bass Tuner with Output Jack and Folding Stand
Korg GA40-BK Guitar and Bass Tuner with Output Jack and Folding Stand
Price: £10.98

4.0 out of 5 stars A good piece of kit, 1 Dec. 2010
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Conveniently small box but with a big screen and easily read. The needle centres when in tune, sharp/flat leds indicate off-tune as well as needle sagging one way or t'other. Tone generator works fine, if you want to tune that way. As E produced is same note for both 1st and 6th string but one octave above low E, perfect for top E.

The needle indicator and leds are either incredibly sensitive or drift slightly either side of in tune. I found that the needle settled down to in tune and the leds went out as the note decayed from max vol to about 1/2 vol. So a pp stroke of the string seems to be more stable for the tuner to process than ff. I found that after using the tuner, a final check using harmonics on adjacent strings was worthwhile.

Having a solid body electric, I have not yet checked out tuning against a 'live' note to the tuner's mic.

At the price, I thoroughly recommend.

Edimax EW-7711UAN Wireless nLITE High Gain USB Adapter
Edimax EW-7711UAN Wireless nLITE High Gain USB Adapter

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Useless, 30 Sept. 2010
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The s/ware installed perfectly from the CD, the device pulled in 100% sig strength in the location my Tosh can do the same without any other gizmos to help BUT in the location where Tosh falls flat, this thing gave me no more than the Tosh unaided.

However, another sig booster we have pulls up 60% where this thing gives less sig from my net than from somebody else's net down the road!

According to the vendor, once the seal is broken on the box, you get no refund. The fact that the thing fails to do the job is not included as a reason for a refund.

On that basis, they could sell chocolate teapots with no come-back.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 18, 2011 12:37 PM BST

Camera Armor Camera Case for Nikon D5000, black
Camera Armor Camera Case for Nikon D5000, black

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It does a good job, with drawbacks, 12 Aug. 2010
My armour fits my D60. It's a slightly different design, to take account of the different layout of the controls but essentially it's the same.

Don't imagine that rubber armour like this is any defence against water penetration or sand. It may help a little but my m.o. is to presume that this stuff might as well not be there in rain or suchlike. And ditto if in sandy conditions.

If you want environmentally sealed Nikons, you need the D90 and up. More money gets more sealing.

My aim in fitting this armour is to take the knocks that the camera will inevitably get when jostling amongst lenses and other stuff in my bag and the equally inevitable bangs against bits of the outside world as one blunders about.

A good example: Staying with a pal, I left my bag where she didn't want it to be. When I say bag, this is just a 10 Euro general purpose job off a stall in Tarragona market, not some fancy padded, compartmentalised Tamrac or something.

She picked it up by the shoulder strap and, with a bit of a back-swing, tossed it into the hallway - a trip of about 2m by air, followed by a 1-bounce landing. To be fair, she didn't know that there was a grand's worth of camera gear in there, but no harm done. Everything survived and I could be sure that the camera would have had a great deal of the sting taken out of any point-impact by the rubber suit.

Almost all buttons on the D60 are coverd by rubber. I see that the design for the D5000 has more holes in way of more buttons than the D60 version. This is a good thing because I tend to forget what the buttons do and though the rubber has markings to indicate what the button undearneath is, these 'icons' are pretty much impossible to make out.

I've deducted a star because of this. It might even merit minus 2 stars but on the basis that the armour does do the job it was designed for - protecting the camera body from knocks and scuffs, [but NOT water or sand] I'll leave it at 4*.

Where I got mine from, the lens bit was an optional extra. I didn't get it and if it had came bundled, I'd have binned it. Clearly, it's pretty useless, especially if you have a Sigma 10-20 as the default lens on the body and the other lens likely to go on is a 70-200 Nik.

Tip. To protect lenses, slip a doubled-over sock over them. No need to cart around those bags they come it when you buy 'em.

The clincher is, if I got another camera - and a 5000 is on my wish-list - would I buy another suit of armour? Yes.

Living and Working in Spain: A Survival Handbook (Living and Working)
Living and Working in Spain: A Survival Handbook (Living and Working)
by David Hampshire
Edition: Paperback

27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just one sentence may make all the difference, 7 April 2010
Firstly, beware reviews praising older editions. This book is the Jan 2009 edition. The others are all for an edition published 10 years ago [before the Eurozone!]. They are totally irrelevant and since I complained to Amazon about this, I see they have deleted them from reviews of this edition..

I have the earlier edition. It should have gone out in the paper recycling box years ago. Legislators continue to legislate, Eurobureacrats contine to hand down directives on every jot and tittle of our lives, local government comes up with new stunts to suit the mood of the incumbent town-hall mafia.

Having said that, I found Hampshire's previous book to be useful. If this book is as comprehensive and well researched it will have nuggets of info that are valid and valuable, even though one must remember that he will have sent in the manuscript around mid-'08. Important things will have changed. For example, last year the public health rules that apply to ex-pats, particularly the retired, changed radically. Whatever Hampshire says in his book about the public health set-up, is now useless.

The main thing to remember is that books like this cannot tell you everything. There will be whole chapters that are useful - at very least interesting - and there may be one sentence that is gold-plated, saving you pots of money and/or very difficult times.

Useful and worth the price as this book will certainly be, it should be regarded as a primer for those contemplating a move. The real gold is to be had on ex-pat forums, where real life is constantly discussed, in real time, by those living it.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 26, 2012 5:21 AM BST

Jeep Grand Cherokee 1993 - 2004 Haynes Repair Manual
Jeep Grand Cherokee 1993 - 2004 Haynes Repair Manual
by Larry Warren
Edition: Paperback
Price: £18.62

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars No diesel engine coverage., 7 April 2010
Can Haynes be nailed by the Trades Descriptions Act? Well, they should be. Total absence of the diesel engine of any sort.

The Cherokee [XJ] in 2.5 TD form was a very strong seller all over Europe. Why Haynes omitted the diesel from this book is a mystery and a disgrace.

The rest is OK. Bodywork, transmissions, electrics, drive-trains etc deal with stuff common to all Cherokees.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 12, 2011 11:46 AM GMT

You and Your Jeep Cherokee: Buying, Enjoying, Maintaining, Modifying (You & Your)
You and Your Jeep Cherokee: Buying, Enjoying, Maintaining, Modifying (You & Your)
by Dave Pollard
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A excellent historical review. Lightweight on practical matters, 7 April 2010
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The review of the origins & history of the Jeep brand is excellent. There then follows a review of the various models in pretty much all their incarnations and variants. The final chapter features one-offs and specials - some suitably bizarre. The photographs are all excellent.

I suppose the publisher set a limit to the size of the book, so the treatment of practical matters relating to each model is necessarily restricted. It is not, after all, intended as a workshop manual.

But I was hoping for more than I got on the Cherokee [XJ] but there was one item that was immediately relevent and valuable - the XJ's front hubs inevitably go west and replacement is "disproportionately costly". As mine were making tell-tale clonking noises, this one phrase set me on the trail of a more economical way to get the job done than putting it in the hands of Chrysler Jeep, whose quote was eyewatering.

A combination of that well-know auction site and a decent local garage saved me hundreds of pounds, so despite the lightweight coverage of maintenance/repair issues, this book paid for itself in spades.

Thus it can be thoroughly recommended because there may be another phrase in the book that does the same trick for you.

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