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Mr. P. J. R. LEWIS (Llandudno N Wales)
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In Search Of The Dark Ages [DVD]
In Search Of The Dark Ages [DVD]
Dvd ~ Michael Wood
Price: £14.52

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The wait is finally over, it's been 35 Long Years, Lovely Picture & Sound but that Sublime Athelstan episode at last., 5 Feb. 2015
Here at last, after waiting nearly thirty five years for its release, this was Michael Woods first journey into our distant past, and what a beautiful piece of television it was, so well researched that it still remains a remarkable piece of television even today..

It changed his destiny, as he had planned for an academic career at Oxbridge, but thankfully for us, his first BBC production was so well received by the critics that he was ask to make more magnificent productions.

In all those years, there has never been a weak link in the chain, everything he has produced has been of an incredible standard.

I cannot quite believe its 35yrs ago that i first watched this great production, i can still remember watching it and thinking it was something pretty special, i am sure there are many of us over the age of 50 who can remember how well researched and interesting it was.

The episode on Athelstan is worth the price of this dvd set alone, and not having seen it since the age of 16, i was almost speechless in admiration, the content was a revelation.

I know those are strong words to describe this entire eight episode series on the Dark Ages, but on reflection i cannot think of any television production past or present that has treated the subject matter as brilliantly as Michael has, no wonder the critics heaped praise on his efforts way back in 1981.

In the very late 1970s early 80s historical series such as these were few and far between usually the preserve of academics, there were hardly any made for prime time national television, simply because it was thought that few people would be interested, and even then production costs were considerable.

Michaels easy going nature combined with a great knowledge and intellect on medieval history, makes his BBC productions, programmes of immense interest, its his carefully planned use of available documentation that brings his productions to life.

This is particularly so with his In search of Shakespeare series, its one of the most impressive bits of prime time television, you feel you know William of Stratford one Michael Wood has introduced him to us.

In this magnificent In Search of the Dark Ages series he looks at the reigns of Boadicea, Arthur, King Offa , Alfred the Great, Athelstan, Ethelred the Unready, Canute and particularly William of Normandy as well as other great rulers of England before the Norman Conquest, they are dealt with in superb detail and accuracy,which is a huge achievement considering for some rulers, King Arthur especially, there is virtually no written documentation to support his facts, and yet we come away thinking he has treated the subject with great reflection.

Many a historian could have conjured up a story to fit the myth surrounding King Arthur, but no, the evidence to support his facts is simply not there, and he has wisely stood back and left the door open for future discoveries on that period of English history.

You know every time Michael Wood releases a BBC production, its always of immense interest and brilliantly researched,possibly that is why the BBC have continued to use him over the thirty and more years.

Certain edited highlights of the series have been on Youtube for quite a few years, and even though it looks quite dated, its still a series of great power and interest.

Back in 1992 i can remember writing to the BCC asking them when they intended releasing this series, i still have their letter exclaiming that they would keep me informed, and keep me on their mailing list.

Twenty three years later for some unknown reason the BBC have made the decision to allow those of us who have never seen Michaels very earliest work, to say i am surprised at seeing the twin disc set is putting it mildly.

Lets now hope the BBC release his sequel to the Dark Ages, Domesday In search of Early England.

The book has been in print for 35 long years, now enjoy one of Michaels most interesting series, even though its 35yrs late.

I think an update to my review is highly necessary.

I received my discs two days ago, and decided to revisit what still ranks as some of the finest Pre Conquest historical drama ever seen on our television.

Until you actually sit down and rekindle your memories of this incredible series, you cannot really comprehend just how good it was, and as I've said before, the episode on Athelstan was groundbreaking.

Thirty five years is a long time to try and remember just how good this series really was, and with Michael standing behind Athelstans tomb in Malmsbury Abbey, the slow and careful discovery of his short reign of just fourteen years was the finest fourty five minutes of history I have had the pleasure to witness, magnificent presentation of facts and use of documentation.

His explanation that there was a distinct possibility that there was no such ruler as King Arthur, especially with the text of the Anglo Saxon Chronicles backing up his argument was most compelling,

The only reference and possible link to an Arthur figure was in Northumberland, and the skirmishes between two rival households, and a battle that took place near Hadrians Wall.

Since it was first broadcast all those years ago, i do not recollect the BBC ever reshowing it, i might be wrong, but apart from Youtube, this dvd set is the only opportunity we have had in all those years.

Each episode was roughly forty minutes long, and even today with vastly improved archaeological technology at our disposal, it would be almost impossible to improve on the content chosen by Michael.

Its quite strange really, because in certain respects the series looks ever so dated, and yet its historical content is a revelation, no wonder the critics heaped praise when it was first released, its a series of immense power and authority, written by a truly brilliant medieval academic so confident in his subject.

Possibly its the manner that Michael Wood uses to convey his story to his audience that makes the series such a revelation even today, an historian less charismatic and easy going may get bogged down in the intricacies of the subject and lose his audience along the way.

What a shame we had to wait so long for the arrival of this remarkable series, but now its available it would be lovely to see it repeated on prime time television once again, it certainly merits a new audience far too young to remember it.

The picture transfer to disc is incredibly detailed, with only the occasional speck of dust or hair to indicate the programme is decades old.

I was expecting to be disappointed with the picture quality, but either care and attention has been made to clean up the picture or the negatives were in superb shape, this is one above average picture transfer from very old source material.

There is nothing on the disc packaging saying the picture has undergone digital enhancement or alteration.

Remember this series never found itself on to VHS tape, and the picture we can see today is far superior to any video transfer, i really was very surprised and delighted as well.

When you have waited nearly 35yrs to revisit one of your all time favorite series, and the picture quality is this good, then you can almost forgive the BBCs length of time in taking to release this production.

I would love to know what persuaded those on high to place this onto dvd, thirty fives years is a very long time to hold onto stuff as gripping as this.

Sound quality is also excellent, and the only thing that really gives the game away are the proliferation of Ford Consuls and Mk1 Granadas on Colchester high street.

Even Michaels very modest all White T reg (1978 model) 1.6L Ford Cortina looks ever so dated, you would have thought the BBC could have stretched to a GL or possibly a Ghia model, but no, obviously times were hard and production costs high, and this was Michaels first venture into television stardom, and by the way he was driving it, it was his own transport as well. - Great Stuff!!!!

Michaels flaired trousers are really a sight to behold (Who can remember those ?), ever so 70s in apearence, with some of the people being interviewed looking ever so Hippie like.

None of that distracts from this entire dvd package, the historical content has not dated one little bit, and Michaels charm and enthusiasm that won our hearts and the BBCs is clearly evident from the opening sequence on the Thames Embankment directly opposite Big Ben discussing Queen Boudicea.

Unlike many other dvd sets ive purchased, this Michael Wood production will most certainly be enjoyed time and again, its more than a pleasure watching it.

Content, picture and Sound quality will make this a dvd set to treasure, and its an ever so easy 5 star purchase.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 12, 2015 8:01 PM GMT


Hard Road to London
Hard Road to London
by Idris Evans
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Follow the Drovers from Abergwyngregyn, Rowen, Tal Y Cafn, Eglwysbach and beyond., 29 Nov. 2014
This review is from: Hard Road to London (Paperback)
A particularly nice descriptive publication of the Drovers in the Conwy Valley and Denbigh areas.
I work in Eglwysbach, a mile or two up the road from Bodnant Gardens and my office window over looks the very lane of Fordd Cae Forys.

That lane is exactly 12ft wide, a width that is sometimes an indication of ancient beginnings especially that of Droving, and is the road used by the Anglesey Drovers as they followed the route from Bwlch Y Du Faen, the Roman road that traverses the lower slopes of the Carneddau below Tal Y Fan from Abergwyngregyn.

Once they had come through Rowen and over the Conwy estury at Tal Y Cafn ferry crossing, they then used the lane that climbs steeply towards the back of Eglwysbach village, and came out by the Sun Inn opposite FFord Cae Forys lane.

This book is a rather nice account of those Anglesey Drovers who crossed opposite Beaumaris over the Lavan sands on towards the English borders near Shrewsbury and Ludlow using the route described above.

It is nicely written and of particular interest because it follows a famous 18C-19C Drovers route that is almost on my doorstep.

Once i had finished reading it, i set out by car, parked in Rowen village and followed the route as far as the upper mountain road from Colwyn Bay heights.

Traversing an actual Drovers road of some antiquity brought this book to life, and it's easy to visualise as one reads the text just exactly where the Drovers are in relation to their journey.


The Mobee Magic Bar Charger for Apple Bluetooth Keyboard and Magic Trackpad
The Mobee Magic Bar Charger for Apple Bluetooth Keyboard and Magic Trackpad
Offered by WorldShoppersLink
Price: £24.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Clever design but not for extensive use Battery Life Will then be limited, 6 Nov. 2014
A very clever idea let down by eventual loss of battery life in only six months.
If you use your computer for extensive office graphic design work as I do, you will find the shelf life of the battery pack very limited, so limited in fact that a work colleague suggested I invested in Apples equally magnificent Numeric keyboard which never loses power due to its ability to take power directly from the computer via USB cable.

That unfortunately goes against the whole concept of total wireless portability, but if you use your computer almost 24/7 as I do for my business then this Magic Bar Charger will have a very limited shelf life, which is a shame because the concept is very cleverly thought out.

My set up now revolves around the Numeric Keyboard and Magic Trackpad and this Magic Bar charger is used by a friend who uses his Mac less frequently than I do.


Apple Battery Charger and Batteries
Apple Battery Charger and Batteries
Offered by Vadgets
Price: £24.25

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Apple products are good but not in this case., 22 Oct. 2014
Beautifully made and designed as all Apple products are i feel it's a step too far paying close on £30 for a simple battery charger.
An Apple fanatic friend had to purchase one of these simply because of it's Apple association.
Recently i invested in a beautiful Magic Trackpad even though i had the Magic Mouse, an extravagant purchase or money well spent.
The Mouse is now surplus to requirements and the Trackpad a must have accessory that actually improves the way one interacts with ones iMac.

Two years ago i paid £9.85 for the very sturdy and totally reliable Ever ready plug in battery charger and four Duracell Rechargeable battery's.

You have obviously gathered that i think nearly £30 for a cleverly marketed Apple charger is too much money.

In this instance i feel paying considerably less for an equally impressive charger is what the doctor ordered.

How far can a manufacturer push it's loyal customers with charging a premium for a basic item that does nothing differently to something costing considerably less.


Apple Magic Trackpad
Apple Magic Trackpad
Price: £42.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I thought i did not really need one BUT IT'S REPLACED MY MOUSE FOR GOOD, 19 Oct. 2014
This review is from: Apple Magic Trackpad (Accessory)
My Mouse will remain on my desk still sealed in it's protective wrapping, yes the Magic Trackpad is that good..

Ive only been a iMac owner for five weeks having taken the expensive route of kikking my large and powerful PC into touch FOR GOOD, Good Buy Windows hello Mac.
Like most owners of this Trackpad they will have purchased it to experiment with, is it a worthy replacement to the Magic Mouse, A most definite YES to that question.

It takes a while to get used to it due to it's different feel and action to a hand held mouse, but after a few hours use ones hand gestures and speed become second nature.

The entire area of the trackpad can be used as one large click button, and when one learns the different controls in the option list the speed of use equals or exceeds that of the mouse.

You can read the reviews thinking do i need to spend yet more money on a piece of kit that i already possess in the Mouse, but thankfully the Trackpad has become my chosen method of operating my computer.

Like all Apple products it's beautifully made and works perfectly evertime i switch on my iMac, and battery life is very impressive indeed, with a pair of brand new Duracells still showing 90% charge after nearly two months continuous use.

If your thinking of buying one but feel you can do without it due to the not too considerable cost then i would recommend getting one.

It's a real joy to use and when you learn how to use it it makes using your computer a real joy.


Apple Keyboard with Numeric Keypad
Apple Keyboard with Numeric Keypad
Price: £38.39

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pretty difficult to fault, build quality and user friendliness amongst the best on the market, 15 Oct. 2014
Apple certainly know how to design and execute a product to almost perfection, as soon as one inserts the USB cable in the back of your Imac or which ever unit you decide to choose the unit instantly recognises this keyboard.

The keys have a lightness to touch that is so pleasant to use over extended periods that it's a delight to use, there is no fatigue over extended use as i can say for other high quality keyboards ive owned and used.

Having two USB sockets either side of the beautifully crafted aluminium keyboard is a very nice addition to an already gorgeous looking unit.

We all know that Apple like to charge the customer a premium for their products, but in this instant they can be forgiven because this is the best quality and most user friendly keyboard you are likely to buy or use.

It even feels nicer to use than their wireless keyboard, with additional keys especially a delete key that the wireless keyboard for some reason does not have.

If one could award ten stars the keyboard would merit them, it's so user friendly that if one tried to design your dream keyboard its appearance and use would not be far removed from this one.


The Drovers: Who They Were and How They went
The Drovers: Who They Were and How They went
by Kenneth John Bonser
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Any one of these books will a magnificent read for those interested in the trade of Droving animals across great distances, they, 26 Aug. 2014
There are three reference books on the early 19C trade of the moving of cattle ,sheep and even geese huge distances from both the Scottish borders and Wales.

MR Colyers magnificent text "The Welsh Cattle Drovers" and Kenneth Bonsers more general but equally impressive account of the Drovers and who they were.

Those two books are sadly out of print and certainly difficult to obtain due to their age and limited availability.

A recently released and more centralised account of Droving in Northumberland is the third text.

Any one of these books will a magnificent read for those interested in the trade of Droving animals across great distances, they are recognised as true classic reference books on this most interesting of subjects.


Drovers' Roads of Wales
Drovers' Roads of Wales
by Shirley Toulson
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A detailed analysis of the Drovers and their routes in the North and West of Wales., 26 Aug. 2014
A superb reference book on what is regarded as a rather specialist subject.
The early 19C Droving trade really came to an abrupt end in the late 1850s with the arrival of the Railways making the walking of countless beasts from Wales to the markets of Smithfield and other fairs in the SE of England unneccessary.

This book with the use of hand drawn maps outlines the main Drovers Roads in both North wales and Mid Wales especially in the Harlech Aberystwyth areas.

It was Anglesea that saw the main Droving trade in the North with Cardigan, Tregaron, Aberystwyth and Carmarthen seeing the main trade in South West Wales.

Shirley Toulson has also produced a second volume dealing with the Droving in South Wales being Llandovery, Brecon and Builth Wells being the main centres.

There have been few publications written about the Droving trade with KJ Bonser and MR Colyers publications being the classic text on the subject.

For those wanting to discover the routes actually used by Drovers throughout Wales then Shirley Toulsons book is a magnificent guide, and the hand drawn maps and illustrations make the book an excellent purchase for those genuinely interested in the subject.


Camberwick Green (Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy - Re-scanned 2011 by the BBC)
Camberwick Green (Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy - Re-scanned 2011 by the BBC)
Dvd ~ Brian Cant

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A big and significant improvement BUT ONLY JUST, 22 Aug. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Considering the age, I was only three when they were first televised back in 1966, and the limited quality of its original 16mm film this Blu Ray HD transfer is quite a step up in quality over everything else we have witnessed in the past.

Those expecting stunning clarity may be disappointed and in certain episodes especially the Mr Caraway the Fishmonger episode you can clearly see that the very old original film has seen better days with the picture quality almost on par with the standard dvd losing a lot of its clarity.

Certain episodes particularly the Peter the Postman and Jonathan Bell episodes are particularly impressive, you can clearly see the bits of string used to manipulate the characters arms and heads suspended from the trees and sky.

Its a real surprise that anyone thought it would be a good idea to have a go at digitally enhancing very old 16mm film, but its a testimony to the popularity of the Trumptonshire trilogy that we can enjoy Camberwick Green like we have never seen it before.

The sound quality has certainly improved and this new HD transfer is certainly clearer than anything we have heard before, but certain episodes are really beyond 21C digital help with immense picture grain and quality almost on par with the standard dvd, but all is not doom and gloom with a few episodes pretty spectacular and worth the tenner asking price.

One interesting highlight was being able to read the letters in Peter's hand whilst visiting the post office, with Dr Mops name clearly printed on the envelope, they could have printed anything on it not expecting nearly fifty years later technology able to bring out the blurd detail.

This DVD set is certainly worth purchasing and depending on the quality of your tv and disc player you may be in for a treat, but we cannot escape the fact that Camberwick Green was the very first childrens programme made in colour in March 1966 and because of that we could not expect miracles with 21C digital technology.

I was certainly impressed with what has been done to the picture quality but this is by no means a superb transfer, certain episodes are ropey to say the least whilst others are eye popingly good, but at ten pounds this twin disc set is a steal especially for those die hard fans ME INCLUDED.

If you are looking for the best quality picture we are ever likely to see, even better than the original 1966 broadcast then this Blu Ray set is a must have purchase, but be aware certain episodes are beyond help due to their age and in particular the Mr Caraway episode was dodgy to say the least.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 6, 2015 10:17 PM GMT


LCD Digital Temperature Humidity Meter Thermometer
LCD Digital Temperature Humidity Meter Thermometer
Offered by Magic&Gorgeous
Price: £3.30

5.0 out of 5 stars Changing the time is very easy and having a humidity gauge is also a bonus, 11 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A very accurate and sensitive digital temperature readout with the ability to switch from centigrade to farenhight.
The AAA battery can last well over a year and even light body heat will effect the temperature.
Changing the time is very easy and having a humidity gauge is also a bonus.

Well worth purchasing.


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