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Robbie Swale

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My Sporting Life: Sir Alex Ferguson
My Sporting Life: Sir Alex Ferguson
by Danny Kelly
Edition: Audio CD

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars So low on detail it's almost not worth listening..., 26 Nov. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I must admit I thought carefully about ordering this product, given in particular that it has been put together by TalkSport. But I had recently read a really good article about Sir Alex Ferguson, in honour of the 26th anniversary of his taking over at United, and another about the watershed signing of Eric Cantona, and I thought 'there are so many great stories to come out of these amazing 26 years, they've got some good interviewees, this has to be interesting'. I'd also qualify this by saying I'm a United fan, so pretty much any SAF content goes down well with me.

But. Unfortunately, this recording, which comes in at an hour long, is so light on detail that there are in fact almost no stories here of any interest. The contributors should be interesting - including Martin Edwards, Dwight Yorke, Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Paul Ince among others - but the truth is there is very little detail with most of them, and the interviews (which must have surrounded the clips here) must have been very poorly conducted. The interviews are not-particularly-elegantly pulled together by some very mediocre voice-overs, skimming over potentially fascinating periods in seconds, and providing almost no detail of any games themselves: where is the discussion of the 9-0 vs Ipswich? How can you mention beating Forest 8-1 at the City Ground without mentioning Solskjaer's four goals in the last 14 minutes? Does Andy Cole's British record transfer really deserve no mention?

All this - you might say - should be no surprise. TalkSport is a tabloid radio station, and that's what you get here: it's the three paragraph story, containing one fact, one inane quote from someone who is vaguely related to the story but mainly unintersting, and then some closing commentary. I am not a tabloid reader, and I can't help but wish this had been put together by The Guardian's Football Weekly team, or journalists from the Times or the Telegraph. If the BBC had put this together, I don't doubt they would have got some fascinating insights, and would have pulled it together with some spine-tingling radio commentary (it is notable, and pretty shallow and cheap, in this CD, that as soon as we reached a period where TalkSport had some rights to broadcast - around 2009 - commentary suddenly appears on this CD).

So, after this damning review, why do I give it two stars and not just one? Two reasons. The first is TalkSport's Manchester Correspondent Dom McGuinness, who provides the vast majority of the CD's interesting anecdotes and observations. The second is that the line-up is good, and it is about Sir Alex Ferguson, so for a United fan it does have some value. But not much.

Monsieur Lazhar [DVD] [2011]
Monsieur Lazhar [DVD] [2011]
Dvd ~ Mohamed Fellag
Price: £9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A lovely film..., 27 Oct. 2012
This review is from: Monsieur Lazhar [DVD] [2011] (DVD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Monsieur Lazhar is a lovely film - with some truly heart-warming performances - and a variety of themes from suicide and grief to parenting and immigration.

It tells the story of a new teacher who takes over a class after their previous teacher commits suicide. Monsieur Lazhar may not quite be what he seems, however, and the primary focus of the film is his struggle as his unconventional methods clash with the school's curriculum and rules.

Like any film about primary aged children, a large part of the success rests of the child actors involved. Here - and perhaps this is helped by the fact that the film is in french, although I can't be sure of that - the children give excellent performances. Particularly the actors playing Alice and Simon. They are honest, believable, and they carry a large part of the emotional journey of the film.

If I had to raise a criticism of the film, it is that it perhaps doesn't delve deep enough into any one of the topics, relationships or plot lines deeply enough. As such, it left me slightly wondering if the film could have done with another half hour in which to really examine one of the issues or characters. Having said that, I would always err on the side of 'leave them wanting more'.

Overall, this is a thoroughly enjoyable film: it is relaxing, touching and enjoyable. For me, it didn't break new ground - or touch me in the way that, for instance, Dead Poet Society did - but that's not the be all and end all, and I would challenge anyone to watch this and not enjoy it.

No Title Available

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not worth the trouble... or at least not with my feet..., 22 Oct. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have to say that I gave up with this product. I started using it - unpacking the little bag things, reading the instructions and starting the process - but I gave up. I probably should have researched it more, but two hours with these things on felt like too much for me given that my feet are currently in reasonably good shape.

Having now read a few of the reviews on here, I have to say I'm glad - the idea of my feet flaking like mad is more than a bit off-putting.

So my recommendation would be that if - like me - you're just a bit disgruntled with some dry skin here and there, these aren't for you. If your feet are in a real state, then I'd read the product descriptions carefully, make sure you're up for it, and maybe give it a go... so three stars for me!
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Culinare One Touch Automatic Can Opener - White
Culinare One Touch Automatic Can Opener - White
Price: £11.16

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Pretty useless..., 22 Oct. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I may have only tried this on one can, but if I could, I'd take it back. Essentially having battled with this thing and the can for about five minutes and made almost no progress in opening it, I gave up and used a normal can opener.

I couldn't get it to grip properly at first, then when I did it didn't seem strong enough to cut through the can. I thought it might be that the batteries I was using weren't full or something so I changed them, but it made no difference.

Granted, I've only tried it on one can. If I can face it, I'll try again next time I'm opening one, and if it's very easy or anything I'll comment again.

But the truth is that opening cans isn't that difficult, and unless this sort of thing is really straightforward and effective it's pretty pointless. Hence the one star.

Moving on: Breaking Up without Breaking Down (Relate Relationships)
Moving on: Breaking Up without Breaking Down (Relate Relationships)
by Suzie Hayman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Readable and down-to-earth..., 22 Oct. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, which is written really solidly by someone who clearly has a lot of experience in working with people in relationships which are breaking - or have broken - down.

Like most people, I turned to this book at the end of what is to date the most significant relationship in my life, and I think there are two key reasons why it is useful in that situation:

- It is really readable - I find it hard to read non-fiction at the best of times, which this wasn't. But the chapters are short and manageable, structured in a way which feels like it makes perfect sense, and the writing is really easy: to the point and not too wordy.

- It is positive and practical - whilst I didn't feel like this book told me much that I would consider ground-breaking, its viewpoint is sound, solid and reassuring. There wasn't too much in here that was totally painful, making me revisit and rehash pain from the relationship. Instead, it is - as the title suggests - about finding ways to move on in a positive and helpful way.

There are aspects that aren't for everyone - the sections about dealing with children - but I read them anyway, as for me the ending of my relationship became a lot about trying to be more prepared for the challenges relationships throw your way.

To give you an idea about what the content is, I thought it might be useful to see the chapter headings: 1) Facing up to endings, 2) Can you mend it?, 3) If it's over, 4) A fresh start?, 5) What do you tell the children?, 6) Blueprint for a breakup, 7) If it turns ugly, 8) Shared parenting when a relationship ends, 9) Family members, 10) Life after separation.

The only reason I don't give it five stars is that - for me - I didn't feel like it taught me a huge amount. It did teach me things - particularly some things to do with endings, ironically perhaps in the first chapter - and it gave me massive reassurance, but I seem to be a person who wants new depths.

The caveat to that, though, is that I read it after a relationship had ended, after I had thought about that a lot, and after I had been - as part of the breakup - to some therapy sessions with Relate. So part of the reason it probably didn't teach me that much is that I came to it quite late in process: I would really recommend these sorts of books to everyone, whether they are in a relationship or not, and whether their relationship is in trouble or not. While it may be hard to understand that, I really feel that the wisdom contained in books like this - which are easy and quick to read - could be really valuable to people in either coping with breakups better, or avoiding them all together.

Rowan Atkinson's The Atkinson People (Classic BBC Radio Comedy)
Rowan Atkinson's The Atkinson People (Classic BBC Radio Comedy)
by Rowan Atkinson
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £13.25

4.0 out of 5 stars This is funny, but perhaps not as funny as it could be..., 27 Sept. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a well made comedy series, starring Rowan Atkinson. There are four 'radio interviews' with fictional characters, all played by Atkinson. It shows him at his best: showcasing his fantastic versatility, and tapping into almost everything from Bean to Blackadder and beyond. When he's on form, it's very hard to fault his performances.

So the reason I don't give this five stars is the writing. For me, the comedy here is in the characters and the way the interviews send-up their professions: my favourites are the actor and the philosopher (slightly less keen on the pop star and even less so on the orator).

My fault in the series, then, is when it tries to send-up radio interviews themselves. This seems laboured and... well... just not very smart.

But thinking back to it there are some classic lines: the philosopher and 'IT' is great comedy.

Best of Embrace (GTAB Songbook) (Paperback)
Best of Embrace (GTAB Songbook) (Paperback)
by Embrace
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.99

2.0 out of 5 stars If you want to strum these songs, this isn't for you..., 18 Sept. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Essentially I'm a guitarist of medium ability: I enjoy playing songs and singing them to myself in my room, and occasionally round the odd campfire. What I want from a songbook, really, is the lyrics laid out with the chords. This book does provide that, although it's laid out in musical notation so isn't strum-friendly. Also, the chords seem - when compared with options provided by people who have tabbed the songs online - overly complicated, and not particularly friendly to people who don't read music or have that level of theory.

So, I've given it two stars because for my purpose it doesn't really do it. However, if you want to sit at your piano and play some of these songs, this is probably exactly what you need, and if you are really musically minded, then maybe you'd look at it and say 'ah, this is X chord because he's actually playing all this with a capo on', or whatever.

It's a great selection of tracks, though - pretty much what you would want from a selection up until Out Of Nothing (nothing from This New Day)... For information, here are the tracks included: All You Good Good People, Ashes, Come Back To What You Know, Fireworks, The Good Will Out, Gravity, Hooligan, How Come, I Wouldn't Wanna Happen To You, Looking As You Are, Make It Last, My Weakness Is None Of Your Business, One Big Family, Retread, Save Me, That's All Changed Forever, Three Is A Magic Number, Wonder, You're Not Alone.

200 Veggie Feasts: Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook: Over 200 Delicious Recipes and Ideas
200 Veggie Feasts: Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook: Over 200 Delicious Recipes and Ideas
by Louise Pickford
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.99

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars These are nice, but there's a lot of cheese!, 17 May 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Ok, a few things to say: firstly, the stuff in this book is tasty. Almost without exception, the 10-15 recipes I've eaten from it were really nice. Second, it's not *that* easy. When I made them, as a mediocre cook, they didn't look great (although generally they tasted good), but when my more talented friends made them, they looked and tasted great. Third, I felt like there was a bit too much cheese. As someone who has lived with vegans and vegetarians before, and eaten at some great vegan and vegetarian restaurants, I know that cheese isn't vital for a vegetarian dish and there's lots of ways of being more inventive and making it work without dairy.

Having said that, this book doesn't claim to be vegan, and there are some dishes - typically the ones that originate in asia (Thai, for instance, or Indian) which don't use cheese or dairy. And that's just a minor thing, anyway.

The reason it doesn't get five stars is my minor cheese concern, and also the fact that it uses (and relies) on having lots of herbs and spices, and as someone who doesn't do a lot of proper cooking (I'm only writing this review after several months of having it, and cooking less than one dish a week) I had to buy the ingredients in specially.

If you have a well stocked cupboard, however, and don't mind a bit of cheese, then this book is full of possibilities, and I would suggest picking it up!

Emma (unabridged, 12 CDs) (BBC Audio)
Emma (unabridged, 12 CDs) (BBC Audio)
by Jane Austen
Edition: Audio CD

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't quite do it for me..., 17 May 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Well, I've had this audiobook for a long time and have only just got through it, and I had to really make myself.

I think the thing for me is that Austen isn't audiobook material for me: I tend to listen to audiobooks in the car, and it just isn't gripping enough to keep me hooked as I drive along.

The reading (Jenny Agutter) is generally good, but remember this isn't related to the TV series which the cover shows (and which did keep me interested all the way through).

If you love Austen and are looking for some audiobook action, then this isn't bad, and in fact probably does the job quite well. But if you have a doubt about whether Emma will really hook you in on an audiobook, then I'd listen to your doubts and steer clear...

200 One Pot Meals: Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook: 200 One Pot Recipes
200 One Pot Meals: Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook: 200 One Pot Recipes
by Joanna Farrow
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars I'm no chef, and this book is great for me!, 17 May 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I love this book, and so far all the one-pot dishes I've cooked have been winners.

The recipes are easy to follow, relatively short, but generally varied. Someone like me who is no chef can whip up some pretty nice dishes here, so I'd say - if you're a person who only really has one saucepan, this is probably a good place to start.

Having said that, I'd say the range in Good Food: One-pot Dishes: Triple-tested Recipes: Tried-and-tested Recipes (Good Food 101) is slightly wider, despite there apparenlty being less recipes.

Both are good books, though, and this one is definitely worthy of its 4 stars!

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