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Nutley's Fresh Yellow Oyster Mushroom Kit (1)
Nutley's Fresh Yellow Oyster Mushroom Kit (1)
Offered by Nutley's Kitchen Gardens
Price: £15.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grow Your Own, 30 Dec. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Brilliant Christmas gift for my husband. The mushrooms are delicious (I took the plastic box out of the cardboard box before wrapping, and ended up with mushrooms growing through the wrapping paper!). The fresh mushrooms taste so much better than those from shops - the freshness is unbelievable. Great fried in a little butter or mixed with bacon and onion. Very impressed and will definitely buy again. Delivery very fast and appropriately packaged with clear growing instructions.

The Blessing
The Blessing
by Nancy Mitford
Edition: Paperback

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compulsory reading for all divorcing parents., 24 April 2002
This review is from: The Blessing (Paperback)
I enjoyed this book so much that I will definitely be reading it again. That's high praise-if we only have time to read 3000 books in the average life span, I don't want to waste time re-reading novels. This book is worth the sacrifice of something else.
Nancy Mitford is a fantastic writer. The novel is dedicated to Evelyn Waugh and there are similarities in writing style. The prose is lyrical, but funny and sarcastic. The difficulties of being an Englishwoman married to a Frenchman are hilariously described, particularly in relation to the different attitudes to extra-marital affairs.
The novel is set post-war and was written in 1951. There are some telling comments about the status of America in the post-war world. For example:
"But the Americans hate the people who were on their side in the war. It's the one thing they can never forgive..."
Nancy Mitford writes from a particular political standpoint and "The Blessing", the couple's son, Sigi, provides an example of the danger of manipulation as he aims to keep his parents apart.
He creates misunderstanding for his own ends in a very calculating way. There is a link between his behaviour and the manipulation that goes on between adults and countries. The novel isn't politically correct, it is of its time but still rings lots of bells now. Grace realises that she has to make compromises, her husband comes to appreciate her, but does all end happily ever after? That's the mystery.

After You'd Gone
After You'd Gone
by Maggie O'Farrell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not that good!, 19 April 2002
This review is from: After You'd Gone (Paperback)
After reading the reviews for this book I had high hopes and, at first, I wasn't disappointed. The premise of the book, written from the point of view of Alice trapped in a coma following a car accident, is interesting. A similar device has been used before and, I think, more effectively-see Dalton Trumbo, "Johnny Got His Gun". I enjoyed the early development of most of the characters and the love story between Alice and John is written in a moving and affecting way.
However the character of Ann, the mother, was not well-rounded. She had been left at boarding school by her parents at age 7 and apparently resented this and, it seems, never got over the experience. She married a weak but nice man to escape from her parents and ultimately has three daughters following a strangely-resolved infertility problem. I accept that she is a cold mother and wife, but Alice does not seem to have suffered at her hands particularly. I had no sense of Ann's contribution to Alice's personality, nor did I feel real conflict between them. Her father, Ben, appears to have made no impact on the family at all. The grandmother, Elspeth, is on Alice's side, but again I got no sense of her strength of personality. She is teetering on the brink of being indomitable, but doesn't quite make it.
I enjoyed the book but did guess where it was going relatively early. I still wanted to know what was going to happen, and I found the writing about Alice's grief very moving. The end was predictable however and resolved and explained nothing. It felt a bit like eating a piece of celery mouthful by mouthful, waiting to get to the satisfying bit.
All in all I consider this to be a well-written, clever but flawed novel. I can strongly recommend Rosamond Lehmann's "Dusty Answer" if you want a read that gnaws at your innards and that you will never forget. It was written in 1927 but stands the test of time in a way that "After You'd Gone" will not.

A Small Boy and Others: Childhood Memoirs
A Small Boy and Others: Childhood Memoirs
by Henry James
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't forget the dictionary., 15 April 2002
Henry James wrote this 217 page memoir after the death of his older brother, William and following the completion of his last novel. It concentrates on a brief period of his childhood, spent in New York, London and France. James uses his extended family, his colourful tutors and the small schools that he attended as a structure for the memoir. For example he describes the students and masters at a little language college in Paris. He develops this description into a discussion in greater detail about the character and behaviour of the "English Gentleman"-a race apart in his child's eyes.
I have read several James' novels and have always enjoyed his poetic use of language-once I've got used to it. This is a long way from Chaucer, but the reader has to get her ear in over the first 10 pages or so. I found it hard to do that with this book. The pages are densely typed with long paragraphs and even longer sentences. As this is a memoir there is no story to carry the book along and at times I found it heavy going. This may be because I read it alongside a dictionary and I did learn lots of new words in the process. However the narrative flow was somewhat interrupted.
I did enjoy the description of New York in Chapter 6. The small boy describes the fruit in the markets in the dirty streets. I could smell the peaches and hear the noise of the hawkers. I was also touched by the strong sense of love within the James' family. He had wealthy, well-educated parents who were adventurous in their approach to life and made sure that the children tried as many new experiences as possible.
This is not an easy read. I felt a huge sense of achievement when I had finished but also relief. At least I now know what the word "inveterate" means-I think.

Change Activist: Make Big Things Happen Fast (First Edition)
Change Activist: Make Big Things Happen Fast (First Edition)
by Carmel McConnell
Edition: Paperback

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Could Carmel McConnell be our answer to Oprah?, 9 April 2002
This is a great self-help book. I have finished a course of study in a new area after having been a lawyer for too many years. I am now trying to find a job and have had a few setbacks recently. I had reached the stage of wondering whether I had made a big mistake to give up my salary to find something more satisfying to do. I had bought this book for my husband (he still hasn't read it) but decided to have a look at it myself. As a result I now have a revived sense of enthusiasm for job hunting plus some ideas on how to do it more effectively. More importantly I have realised that it is not "mad" to want to make changes and to challenge the status quo. I was once told by one of my bosses that I was too idealistic. This book has helped me to see that he was not idealistic enough. If more partners in law firms had read Carmel McConnell's book I might still be a lawyer!
I enjoyed the bright colour of the cover, the difference in print size and type and the easily digestible chunks of wisdom. The exercises are practical-often self-help tasks are so daunting that I give up half-way through. These are manageable but still thought-provoking.
I'm so enthused I'm going to look up the web links listed at the back of the book. That's a first for me.

His Monkey Wife: Or, Married to a Chimp (Twentieth Century Classics)
His Monkey Wife: Or, Married to a Chimp (Twentieth Century Classics)
by John Collier
Edition: Paperback

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unpolitically correct goings on between Man and Chimp, 25 Mar. 2002
I loved this book.Emily, the chimp, lives in the Upper Congo with Mr Fatigay, a feeble English schoolmaster. Emily is very bright and has picked up the ability to read and understand English in addition to Chimpanzee by careful observation. She is also in love with Mr Fatigay. She is therefore heartbroken when she hears that he is to return to England to marry a feckless privileged woman called Amy. Mr Fatigay decides to take Emily with him as, what turns out to be, an unwelcome present for Amy. The wedding takes place but, as you may guess from the title, all is not as it seems. Emily becomes Mrs Fatigay and the remainder of the book is taken up with what happens next.
This is a very funny story although it is extremely odd. I quickly forgot that Emily was a chimp, although I never doubted Amy's lack of humanity. Mr Fatigay is undeniably dense and the mystery of the book is not that a chimp should be able to read but that the same chimp should find this man attractive. It is no surprise that Emily has lots of male admirers but I think that may be a reflection of the fact that she is apparently very low maintenance. The story resembles a well-written Mills and Boon or, at a different level, Jane Austen's Persuasion. Lots of unrequited love, big eyes and trembling lips, enhanced by unwanted facial hair!
I am sure that the novel contains a serious political/anthropological message. I might pick that up on the second read. On the first go I found it to be great fun,easy to read and I did laugh out loud on the tube on a couple of occasions-the line "Hi, sir! Hi,sir! You've married me to a chimp" is, in the context of the wedding scene, hilarious.
This is lots of fun.

Memed My Hawk
Memed My Hawk
by Yashar Kemal
Edition: Paperback

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exciting tale of love amongst thieves, 17 Mar. 2002
This review is from: Memed My Hawk (Paperback)
"Memed, My Hawk" was written in 1955 by Yashar Kemal,who is described in the Foreword as Turkey's most influential living writer. He was born in Chukurova,Turkey where this book is set. He became a journalist after a period as a public letter-writer and was an active member of the banned Workers' Party. These aspects of his life are reflected in the novel.
The hero is Memed, who we meet as a small boy on the run from his village, which is owned by the cruel Abdi Agha. Memed helps to support his mother by ploughing and planting their field, the crops from which are taken by the Agha, who leaves them with barely enough to live on. The story then jumps to Memed's late adolescence and his love affair with Hatche. Events and the Agha conspire against them and, ultimately, Memed becomes a bandit. He seeks revenge on the Agha and to rescue Hatche in that order.
It is difficult to review this story without giving too much away. Memed is a Turkish Robin Hood and has many exciting adventures. The story is unsophisticated, dealing with complex issues such as loyalty, courage, honour, birth and death in a particularly straightforward way. Major life decisions are made without any agonising over consequences. The villagers support anyone who serves their best interests-their loyalty is ever-wavering. Memed understands this and never condemns them.
Memed makes many mistakes. He is often naive, never a super-hero, and this makes him a charming character. He is a great warrior who takes part in activities that are unworthy of him. For example he joins forces with a bandit who is well known, not only for robbing people of their valuables, but also of their underwear! Memed stands by while this goes on. He doesn't like what he sees but accepts that there is little that he can do to change things.
The female characters are less impressive. Hatche is generally peevish and weak. The strongest female character is Iraz, who behaves like a man, a warrior. The development of these women demonstrates a strength in the writing-the women are as they are without being irritating. I accepted that this was their true state-within this society at this time they were powerless-and there was no pretence at making them any more than chattels of the men. However the male villagers too are owned by their local Agha, who in turn is managed by a more powerful bandit. There is a strong sense of hierarchy in the story. I felt the criticism of the system by the author without being preached at.
The story moves along very quickly. The language is poetic and colourful. The characters are easy to visualise and the descriptions come alive-I could almost smell the smoke of the campfires. The chapters are quite short, making for great bedtime reading. I can highly recommend the book-this is a very seductive tale.

No Logo
No Logo
by Naomi Klein
Edition: Paperback

59 of 63 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A slap in the face for unethical shopping decisions?, 4 Mar. 2002
This review is from: No Logo (Paperback)
I have owned this book for some time, and have only just plucked up the courage to read it. This has taken a month to finish, largely because the issues raised required some thought and resulted in a bit of discussion at home, even briefly diverting attention away from sport on TV. The title makes it clear that the author is taking up a particular, predominantly negative, attitude towards branding and marketing in the context of globalisation. Naomi Klein has researched the impact of brands on local environments and people, and on the countries where products are manufactured, with reference to the power of multi-nationals to shape national and international politics and policies. I was impressed by the detail in the book, although I found parts of it heavy-going for the same reason.
The chapters dealing with the marketing of brands to young people within schools and universities were particularly interesting-things have changed since my day. I was fascinated by what makes a brand "cool" and how corporations have acquired and then exploited knowledge about us all to create demand for products. I discovered that my belief that I take no notice of advertising is almost certainly wrong-I see so many messages during a day that some of them are bound to stick and then pop up the next time I need to buy a pair of trainers.
The strongest chapters relate to the treatment of workers in sweatshops in various parts of the world. I knew that such operations existed but I had not appreciated the extent of their reach. This book proved to me that I have bought goods manufactured by someone who is living on payment well below minimum wage, working long hours, often in unsafe conditions. That has made me stop to think about what I will buy and from where in future.
Having awakened my awareness I was disappointed that the book did not tell me what to do with it. I would have welcomed some positive suggestions for making different choices when shopping, or details of how to lobby for change. I was also unclear as to Naomi Klein's view regarding violent direct action. I felt that she was uncritical of some actions taken by protestors, for example in the May Day riots, and it would have helped me to understand her perspective, and that of the protestors, if she had stuck her neck out a little more. I would also have appreciated a more historical context to the detail e.g. an explanation of how the textile industry has developed in the UK via sweatshops, unionisation etc. in such a way as to lead many clothing retailers to source products in, say, Macau (using the example that I am wearing at the moment), rather than Yorkshire. Does this mean that we haven't moved on from the portrayal of the textile industry in the sitcom "Brass" and still all that matters to us is the cheapest price and the highest profit? If so, why?
I have made the book sound like a worthy tome and in some respects it is. I am surprised by how many people I have seen reading it on the Tube. What I have learnt from "No Logo" is that we value individuality and want to do the right thing as long as we don't stand out from the crowd or have to pay too much! The big brands can capitalise on those conflicting desires to sell more products that are pretty much the same as each other using the flattery of advertising to convince us that only we are worthy of them. This book has taught me not to be quite so easily duped. Now all I need is another book to tell me how to shop ethically!
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